The Japanese word for “continuous improvement” was introduced after the Second World War as a way to humanize the workplace, eliminate overly difficult work and offer line-workers a scientific approach to their jobs.
In a nutshell, Kaizen:
• Involves continuous improvement strategies
• Allows people to make mistakes and learn from them
• Always searches for improvement
• If used properly, leads to increased morale, better production and reduced costs
While Kaizen is often a slow process—one that requires not only a continued overhaul of procedural and production methods, but also the establishment of a new workplace culture—it is based on everyone within the organization playing an integral role in seeking and implementing change for the better.
Three components of successful kaizen implementation:
1. Make mistakes
2. Reward people for finding problems and solving them
3. Be on the lookout for new, better ways of doing something
But to effectively operate a kaizen environment, other components are necessary.
Here are a few:
Horenso: Japanese abbreviation for report (hokoku), update (renraku) and consult (sodan) assumes companies have a strict hierarchy of communication for factory workers to consistently send information up the chain of command to ensure decisions are made with as much information as possible.
Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA): One of the first tools for implementing kaizen because it fosters Achieve higher quality in your processes and repeated increases in work efficiency.
5-whys: this tool to discover the root causes of a problem consists of
• Identify the problem.
• Identify causes
• Look at the variables of the problem for each determined cause
• Repeat step three until the root cause is identified
• Find solutions and countermeasures to fix the root cause
Mieruka: Translates to “making visible” in English, but can also mean “visualization.” It presents problems in a simple visual form to enhance transparency and increase effectiveness. Mieruka could be a simple corkboard describing parts on hold that affect manufacturing, or a whiteboard tracking the number of defects on a production line.