What is Kaizen?
Kaizen is a business philosophy which ensures the success of a business by spreading effective workplace ethics in the framework of a company. Kaizen was first used by Japanese companies after the Second World War. In this article we will see different aspects of Kaizen such as Kaizen 5S, Kaizen examples and Kaizen certification etc.
Kaizen is the key to the success of global leaders such as Toyota, Lockheed Martin, Herman Miller, The Great Western Bank etc. To know more about how these companies used the technique effectively one can see how Kaizen was implemented individually in each one of these companies.
Working at any Japanese company one will realize that all employees are continuously approaching things with the perspective and aim of growth. Self-improvement is known to be the key to being a better asset for the company. All of this is ideally not done with a spirit to compete with the co-worker and instead with a spirit to become the best version of oneself.
Definition of Kaizen
The word Kaizen simply means “change for better” in Japanese and does not mean “continuous” or “philosophy” in Japanese dictionaries or in everyday use. The word refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small, in the same sense as the English word “improvement”. Kaizen means “continuous improvement” in the business sense.
- A business philosophy which strictly advocates the “ability to change” for putting in place consistent positive which is bound to create increased productivity.
- A personal or social life approach which focuses on providing continuous improvement.
Meaning of Kaizen
The word “Kaizen” translates to “continuous improvement. It advocates a spirit of changing for the better and the change can be a one-time change or over time. The aim is to propagate forward displacement towards becoming better and all the members of the company should be a part of the process; from the leading executive to a clerk in the company, everyone must be motivated to become better. This meaning is the one which was derived after Kaizen was propounded by Toyota as the “Toyota Way”.
Kaizen today is not just a business method but also a way of life for many. The constant will to be better than before. The will to improve at everything and the openness to change.
What is the Kaizen method?
Though it is a philosophical concept, in application it is a lot more methodical. For instance, the Kaizen improvement cycle. It can be broken down to six steps which one must repeat:
- Identify: Before improving a process, it is important to know what the current state of the process is. This will require for every process to be elaborated in steps and decisions and then to be visualized in a document of some form.
- Measure: After identifying and understanding the process, evaluate the performance by a chart or a document that discusses the resources which have been spent, the value it creates, and feedback received from client.
- Compare: The data which is gathered should be compared to the needs of the project, the expectations a customer has and to the hypothetical ideal state, so the areas that require improvement may be identified.
- Innovate: Develop optimum solutions for the problems which are faced in the process, and make sure that changes would outperform the old process, even if the improvement is not significant.
- Standardize: After having innovated and improved successfully, make all changes part of the standard process so that everyone can benefit from using the process.
- Repeat: Repeat the cycle by making another small, consistent improvement.
It is the everlasting nature of the cycle, much like the essence of life that makes the Kaizen improvement cycle and the practice of it diligently the most useful tool for success.
In order to achieve success in the Kaizen improvement cycle it is important for a company and the employees to master the 5 S of Kaizen philosophy. The use of these 5 S gives any company a tremendous improvement in efficiency, production, workplace culture
- SEIRI – Tidiness. SEIRI stands for sorting out. According to Seiri, employees should sort out and organize things well. Label the items as “Necessary”, “Critical”, “Most Important”, “Not needed now”, “Useless and so on. Everything useless should be thrown and all that is not needed now should be kept aside. Items which are critical and most important should be kept in a safe place.
- SEITION – Orderliness. Seition means organizing. Some research indicates that employees waste half of their time searching for items and important documents. Every item should have a designated space and should be kept there.
- SEISO – Cleanliness. The word “SEISO” means shines the workplace. The workplace shpuld be kept clean. Remove any clutter in the workstation. Necessary documents should be kept in proper folders and files. Use cabinets and drawers to store your items.
- SEIKETSU-SEIKETSU refers to Standardization. Every organization needs to have certain standard rules and set policies to ensure superior quality.
- SHITSUKE or Self Discipline – Employees must respect ab organization’s policies and adhere to the rules and regulations. Self-discipline is key. No one should be in casuals while in office; they must follow work procedures and not forget to carry identity cards to work. This gives you a sense of pride and respect for the organization.
Renowned institutes today offer a certification to individuals who will become the growth engine for a company. The most reputable training is offered by the Kaizen Institute. The Kaizen Institute has become a global brand name and thousands of industry leading companies across the globe give great value to individuals who are trained in Kaizen as they are capable of adding great value to their company and in some cases, transform the work culture providing it with manifold growth.
Presently, the Kaizen Institute offers 3 levels of certification to individuals in various continuous improvement roles. The Kaizen Institute website will provide interested individuals all the information about Kaizen and help them take up a course which is guaranteed to not just look great in their portfolio but give them value addition which will transform their attitude into positive and growth oriented.
The Kaizen institute works along the lines of the following principles and the instructor use their expertise to provide the following learning’s:
- Coach and develop the training and facilitation skills of trainees
- Jointly oversee the improvement projects of your trainees
- Mentor the trainees through successful hands-on projects
- Certify trainees to be self-sufficient improvement leaders
- Gemba exercises at your site
- Improve team spirit
- Make tailored made schedule
A successful Kaizen leader is someone who does not just demonstrate an ability to lead projects and deliver business results in all the different fields of operations and processes in the company the also become “viral agents” within the organization and motivate everyone in the company as multitasking kaizen event leaders, trainers and coaches.
Why should one take this certification?
The Kaizen course is designed for professionals and graduates who wish to gain excellence in their chosen field of interest. It will also prove very beneficial for people who are presently employed and would like to acquire the Kaizen certification for further vertical growth in their company or career.
Earning the Kaizen Professional Certification will set apart the individual in today’s competitive job market; widen the purview of their employment opportunities by displaying an ability for masterful management, and increase their earning potential substantially with one quick yet highly effective certification.
Who will benefit from taking this certification?
Those who are hoping to find employment in departments such as quality and quality assurance department, youngsters who want to improve their skill set and make a stronger CV, and the existing employees who are looking for growth. The person can prove the value of his/her skill by obtaining the certification.
Kaizen events are not very long in duration and are aimed at improvement in a specific field, set of skills or aspect of a company. The usual practice is of conducting approximately week long events led by a facilitator. An implementation team is largely composed of people from fields on which the event is themed or based and there are others from some supporting fields and management.
Following are the types of Kaizen events:
Kaizen events have evolved a large number of names;
- Kaizen Blitz
- Kaizen Burst
- Focused Improvement workshops
- Kaizen workshops
- Continuous Improvement workshops
- Accelerated improvement events
- Rapid process improvement workshops
Kaizen events can also be targeted at specific tools or areas;
- 5S Kaizen
- TPM Kaizen
- Setup Reduction Kaizen (SMED)
- Value Stream Mapping or Flow Kaizen
- Supply Chain Kaizen
Despite these entire different names, there is a singular aim to all these events. Continuous Improvement. These events help employees in a company which as mentioned before includes “top to bottom” of the company structure and hopes to provide the company with a cutting edge in efficiency, innovation, creativity and a positive work-culture.
For a kaizen event to be a success requires good leadership and careful planning, the inability to have either of these will lead to an event where team of professionals do nothing during the entire event confused about what would be best for them to do or what they should be doing.
When implemented effectively a good kaizen event can make major improvements, typical events generating 20% to 100% improvements in areas such as efficiency, quality and delivery performance. Kaizen events should also be applied in areas other than just production; you can often generate significant savings and improvements in service areas of your company, often greater than those traditionally generated in manufacturing.
The benefits of a Kaizen event are as follows:
- The output of a Kaizen event will be an improvement to an existing process.
Kaizen Events are commonly referred to as a tool that:
- Gathers operators, managers, and owners of a process in one place
- Maps the existing process (using a deployment flowchart, in most cases)
- Improves on the existing process
- Solicits buy-in from all parties related to the process
Improving the sigma score:
What is a Sigma Score?
A sigma score is a scale which helps to determine the performance of a process. Sigma score produces an almost precise analysis of observations and data. It thus presents the short-term standard deviation whether above or below the set standard. Also, referred to as sigma, sigma level or standard score. These values provide an analysis of whether the process meets the requirement. Constant improvement though obviously implies further improvement.
Kaizen Events are one of the ways, maybe one of the more efficient to enhance a process with a low Sigma score and in quick time. Kaizen Events are also useful to convince a company to use the new Six Sigma value which is derived from the methodology.
The true intent of a Kaizen Event is to hold small events attended by the owners and operators of a process to make improvements to that process which are within the scope of the process participants.
Kaizen Software is popular among several companies and many individuals believe that the software provides a much-needed advantage. The software makes employs the far-ranging techniques and methods into an ideally easy to use interactive panel and provides the clients, which includes, “top to bottom” employees. While executives can use the method to analyse and adjudge employees from all departments of the company, the employees can use the software to analyse themselves. The software also provides a detailed analysis of the production levels, efficiency, and flow of information and role of employees.
One of the primary principles of Kaizen is respect for people. Leaders have been known to seek respect by getting inputs from employees at every level of the company. The Kaizen leader also acknowledges the effort of people who work hard, meet the goals and have more vigour to improve and promote improvement. Improvement software helps to making the process easier by allows the leader to identify such individuals involved in the most meaningful and growth oriented projects. The best solutions offer to broadcast the improvement so that everyone in the organization can be made aware of what their fellow employees are accomplishing.
Kaizen software provides a new era of visual management of all the work being done to improve the company processes and performance. Managers and executives can easily see when the growth and forward displacement stopped and then act decisively to remove the obstructions or deploy the additional resources at their disposal
Kaizen software should be truly reflective of the Kaizen principles
Here are some features of the best Kaizen Software in the market:
- Easy installation
The software use cloud-based technology so they require no special installation. It is easy to use and requires no special training; anyone can begin use any time. Access is available from any browser or mobile device.
The software will be highly flexible and allow user to explore projects in a multi-dimensional manner, from standalone ideas with one owner to projects that involve several team members and a variety of tasks. Good Kaizen software will be applicable to the entire range of solutions, help match the best workflow to a task and be applicable to each corresponding problem.
- Efficiency becomes cross-departmental
Companies are often excessively compartmentalized and people from different departments or even the same cannot interact with another. Projects sometimes are not optimized due to the lack of constant communication. After a project has managed to make it past these barriers, precious time might be eaten up by debates regarding who is responsible for which tasks and who must get the credit. Kaizen software should remove these boundaries and help to enable streamlining of the process and enable teamwork by improved communication and ensuring collaboration.
- Reporting and Visual records
There need to calculable results so that a project does not run out of fuel because members are not able to see the results of the work they do. Kaizen software allows the quantifying of improvement as far as cost saved, time saved and other relevant factors are concerned. Good software should provide the team charts, measures, graphs and other ways to track every improvement on each step in the way. The software will be able to provide results even for the future by categorizing all opportunities into a database which may be referred in case of use in the future.
Kaizen software lets you recognize contributors with features such as a virtual reward system and online profile that makes public acknowledgement of everyone’s growth. Making the reward system more formal a company can introduce formal ceremonies to reward and pay bonuses on the basis of the performances.
Software benefits all the other areas of your company. Goal attainment is an important part of the company and should be valued just as much. Using Kaizen you set out on a process of continuous improvement.
Kaizen is a philosophy which makes far reaching impacts on not just the balance sheet but the atmosphere of a workplace. Employees have mutual respect and are constantly motivated to innovate and add to the plans in a substantial way. Kaizen allows the owners and executives to see beyond the usual façade of mannerisms and day to day issues and evaluate the value of a person to the company. Kaizen has today modernized and its use is easier than ever before. If you have not yet inculcated the principles of Kaizen in your and your business maybe it is time for you to start now.