Kaizen is the Japaense term for “Good Change”, when used in the business sense and applied to the workplace, Kaizen refers to activities that continually improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers.

It also applies to processes, such as purchasing and logistics, that cross organizational boundaries into the supply chain. By improving standardized activities and processes, kaizen aims to eliminate waste.  Influenced in part by American business and quality management teachers who visited the country.
It has since spread throughout the world and is now being implemented in environments outside of business and productivity.

The Toyota Production System is known for kaizen, where all line personnel are expected to stop their moving production line in case of any abnormality and, along with their supervisor, suggest an improvement to resolve the abnormality which may initiate a kaizen.

The cycle of KAIZEN activity can be defined as:

  • Standardize an operation and activities,
  • Measure the operation (find cycle time and amount of in-process inventory).
  • Gauge measurements against requirements.
  • Innovate to meet requirements and increase productivity.
  • Standardize the new, improved operations.
  • Continue cycle ad infinitum.

This is also known as the Deming Cycle, or PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act)

Here are just some COMMON THEMES that may be addressed for KAIZEN:

  • Improving customer forms received in good order.
  • Improving first time call resolution in a call center.
  • Streamlining the order to payment process in purchasing.
  • Streamlining the reporting of hours worked to payroll.
  • Reducing time to hire and onboard new employees.
  • Reducing the submission to completion cycle time for facilities requests.
  • Co-designing forms or content (for a web application) with the largest single user (this may be an external Kaizen with great partnering opportunities).

The 10 Steps to run a KAIZEN EVENT:

  1. Define the problem;
  2. Document the current situation;
  3. Visualize the ideal situation;
  4. Define measurement targets;
  5. Brainstorm solutions to the problem;
  6. Develop Kaizen plan;
  7. Implement plan;
  8. Measure, record and compare results to targets;
  9. Prepare summary documents;
  10. Create short term action plan, on-going standards and sustaining plan.

Keep calm and KAIZEN IT!

For further information go to: KAIZEN INSTITUTE

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