Kaizen How to Make it Work

“Kaizen is a management system for sustainable growth and profits. TBE takes you on a journey that demystifies this process and eventually teaches you how to gain from it.”


Typically, there are two approaches to improvement. The first one involves innovation – applying high-cost solutions such as state-ofthe- art technology and addition of resources. The second uses common sense tools and techniques that do not cost money. This approach is called Kaizen.

Kaizen is small, sustained, and continuous improvements driven by those directly involved with the work and achieved using minimal capital investment. It is a culture of sustained continuous improvement focusing on eliminating waste in all systems and processes in the organisation. This strategy begins and ends with people. With Kaizen, an involved leadership guides people to continuously improve their ability to meet expectations of high quality, low cost, and on-time delivery.

Did you know?

The history of Kaizen began when Toyota first employed a special activity called ‘Quality Circles’ in its production process. Quality Circles were formed by workers at the production site. Mr. Taiichi Ohno, a former Executive Vice- President of Toyota Motor Company pioneered development of the well-known Toyota Production System, which was based on Quality Circle principles and the ‘Just-in-Time’ concept. Kaizen activities can transform your production, logistics, or other operations into efficient ‘lean systems’. However, Kaizen must be continuously practiced because inefficiencies always exist in any plant, system, or organisation. Therefore, not only is Kaizen a continuous activity but it also requires promotion, coordination, and execution by all members of the organisation, managers and workers alike.

There are three important factors in successful Kaizen implementation. First, all Gemba staff (workers at the production site) must understand the Kaizen concept, and have a positive attitude and enthusiasm about the benefits of vigorously practising Kaizen activities. Second, top management must understand, encourage, and learn how to correctly evaluate the outcome of the staff ’s Kaizen endeavors (simply introducing Kaizen activities at the work site can lead to a false sense of accomplishment without achieving quantifiable results). Third, everyone involved must not only understand and practice Kaizen techniques on a day-to-day basis but must also understand its underlying spirit and philosophy.

Key Objectives

The main objective of Kaizen is extracting money by eliminating waste (Muda) from process. Kaizen also focuses on minimising inconsistencies (Mura) and reducing physical strain (Muri).

Kaizen Journey begins with:

-Assessment of the current processes and diagnosis of Muda (waste), Mura, Muri

-Prepare the mindset by training the management and employees

-Take countermeasures to eliminate (at least reduce) Muda through Kaizen events

-Sustain the improvements

-Repeat the above cycle

-Let us now look at steps involving a Kaizen Implementation. Kaizen Implementation is done using the structured problem-solving process of PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act).

  1. Select strategy:

Improve productivity, quality, cost, delivery, safety, morale

  1. Understand the current situation:

-Select the process to be improved

-Know the background – Go see for yourself the Gemba (real work place where value is added)

-Understand the problem

  1. Speak with data :

– Collect right data

– Map and understand the current situation

– Know result and process indicators

– Perform appropriate analysis on the process indicators


  1. Visualise the future:

– Create future state map

– Set targets

– Make visual action plan

  1. Go do it :

– Implement the Kaizen action plans and conduct trials and experiments in model areas

  1. Measure Results:

– Go to Gemba

– Measure result and process indicators against the targets

– Present and celebrate

  1. Communicate and Train

– Inform Gemba people about the improved process

– Set standards

– Train people on new standards

  1. Daily Improvement Management:

– Daily management of result and process indicators through visual boards

– Daily actions

– Daily trainings

– Daily Audits

– Daily problem solving

The key for successful implementation is to do it every day!

Let us not wait for the BEST idea – Implement the BETTER idea; do it still BETTER and the BEST will follow.


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