Learn more about the basics of kaizen, how it improves quality and productivity, and how to successfully drive continuous improvement in the organization.
What is Kaizen? The meaning of Kaizen is based on a set of principles that are designed to bring about change. The term is composed of "Kai" (=improvement) and "Zen" (=for the better). The Kaizen-philosophy advocates small changes that build on each other, which in the long run should produce holistic improvement. It is about a continuous process instead of one-time corrective actions.
In this article, the small and big questions around Kaizen management are comprehensively clarified.
Kaizen originally comes from the Japanese manufacturing technology. After the Second World War, Kaizen was first implemented as a process at Toyota. Then, in the 1980s, Masaaki Imai introduced kaizen worldwide as a method for corporate executives. Today, the method is practiced in a variety of industries and is firmly anchored in corporate concepts.
Understanding and implementing the meaning of Kaizen must be learned, because this method can become a challenge, especially for result-oriented companies, since successes cannot be achieved immediately, but only in long-term processes. The following principles are essential for kaizen and help you to internalize this sustainable process
The continuous improvement that characterizes Kaizen is primarily characterized by proactive solutions. A number of methods deepen the Kaizen principle and support the long-term optimization process. Learn more about these practices here:
A Gemba Walk is performed by managers to learn or review exactly how a particular process works on site, and to get input from employees for improvement suggestions. Gemba Walk checklists help to identify root causes for problem-based goal setting.
5S is used for the efficient design of the workplace. The aim is to achieve a minimalist, resource-saving workflow. The extension of this practice is 6s Lean. In addition to an efficiency-determined work process, safety at the workplace is also controlled and optimized.
Also Six Sigma is based on the Kaizen principle and also sets itself the goal of optimization. Ideally, the highest level of qualitative work is aimed at. The 6 steps, also called DMAIC cycle, are "Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Check"
The Kaizen method is considered to be partly difficult to implement, because the management has to follow the steps of sustainable practice, which is Kaizen, instead of initiating short-term immediate measures for immediate results. However, there are relevant reasons for the use of Kaizen. In the following you will find 3 important advantages for the kaizen mentality
A long-term commitment to continuous improvement is the ultimate goal of Kaizen. This requires above all the initiative of the executives, the management and finally the employees. The kaizen initiative should therefore start from the top and run through all areas of the company to achieve the so-called kaizen mentality.
The improvement of the work can be assessed where it takes place. To this end, managers should create an open environment, encourage employees to make contributions and suggestions and then integrate them into the improvement process. This encouragement of employees, increases the motivation of individuals and promotes an independent efficiency-oriented way of working, because if the management and planning of the company is constantly being reconsidered and questioned, employees are also willing to reflect this and do the same.
Identifying a problem is usually only half the battle, because it is important to determine the basic cause of the problem rather than to eliminate further side effects of the original error. A comprehensive analysis of existing data as well as the experience of employees is particularly effective in this context.
The implementation of corrective measures should be coordinated. To this end, the responsible employees must be aware of the goals and relevance of these measures for the overall corporate planning, since transparency makes the task process more transparent. The corrective actions should be small, realistic tasks rather than complex projects. If the employees are well informed about their work processes and have access to sufficient information material or responsible persons, a motivated, team-oriented and at the same time consistently independent workflow is approved.
As soon as successes are achieved, they should be communicated and outstanding achievements should be rewarded. In addition, setbacks should be seen as opportunities and learning and thus be made visible company-wide. This creates an all-round trusting, high-performance business team.
Digital checklists allow easy implementation and monitoring of continuous improvement efforts. The Lumiform app and software allows you to document, analyze, and audit work steps anytime, anywhere. Save time and paper and rely on minimalist and modern technologies to achieve your business goals. Stay up to date with all the latest developments at a glance through automatic reporting and share them with the people in charge. Use the checklists, which can be flexibly adapted to your company's needs, as useful Kaizen tools and start today with a new, more transparent and efficient corporate communication.
Such a template is used in the pharmaceutical industry to document everything properly. See template
This General GMP Compliance Checklist can be used during regular site inspections to evaluate overall adherence to manufacturing protocols. See template