The term Kaizen literally means ‘improvement’. In business terms, it refers to the activities that continuously helps in improving all functions of the organizations and includes all the employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers as it believes that all the team members are equal and everyone has something to contribute.
Since Kaizen is based on the philosophical belief that everything can be improved, it essentially focuses on eliminating waste, improving employee and customer Satisfaction, enhancing productivity and profitability, and achieving sustained improvement in all targeted activities and processes of an organization. The concept also focuses on identifying the problems at their source while simultaneously solving them at the same time and changing the set standards of the organizations to ensure that no such similar problem is caused in the near future.
The cycle of kaizen activity can be studied as “Plan → Do → Check → Act”. This cycle is also known as the Shewhart cycle or Deming cycle or PDCA.
PDCA brings a scientific approach to making improvements:
- Plan (Develop a hypothesis)
- Do (Run experiment)
- Check (Evaluate results)
- Act (Refine your experiment and then start a new cycle)
Dual nature of Kaizen
Kaizen is both a specific action plan and a philosophy.
- As an action plan, it is about organizing events that are focused on improving specific areas within the organization and involving employees at all levels in it.
- As a philosophy, it is about building a culture where all employees especially the floor levels are actively engaged in implementing improvements within the organization.
Benefits of Kaizen
The application of kaizen methodology provides a lot of benefits to nearly all the businesses from healthcare to psychotherapy to life-coaching, government, banking, and other industries. Kaizen is an essential performance and profitability improvement tool. It is significantly used to reduce manufacturing costs by the organizations. Other benefits of Kaizen include increased efficiency, employee satisfaction, improved safety and driving teamwork.
Kaizen works on the dictum of “nurture the company’s human resources as much as it is to praise and encourage participation in kaizen activities”. Most of its principles are actually based on common rationales that are easy to understand and adapt. Its key elements include excellent quality, effort, and involvement of employees at all levels, willingness to change, and last but not the least communication. And all of these principles do not require any difficult mathematical or scientific calculations to be applied. Hence, Kaizen’s advantages are purely based on human efforts and attitude towards their work and workplace.
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