What is the Kaizen method: steps and examples

What is the Kaizen method: steps and examples

In social networks and other media, people have been talking about the Kaizen method for a long time. This, although considered by many a mere type of methodology or business tool is, in reality, and according to those who have applied it, a philosophy of work and good practices that allows achieving excellence in various areas of business activity and, consequently, of the own personal life.

If you want to know more about the Kaizen method, the steps that must be followed to carry it out correctly and examples of success about this method, we recommend that you continue reading the following. Find out what the Kaizen method is: steps and examples.

What is the Kaizen method – Kaizen philosophy?

The Kaizen philosophy emerged as a socio-economic movement in Japan after the Second World War. The country, plunged into a crisis that encompassed all areas of society, saw Western nations progress towards a future that, for them, was increasingly distant. In order to compete with companies and the great giants of Europe and the United States, the Japanese government devised an organization and management system aimed at achieving success and perfection in all areas of a company. To do this, all fields of the company had to be worked on: human resources, security, productivity, environment, etc.

With time and the help of Kaizen methodology, Japanese companies achieved excellence and total quality of their products. Its motto: “Today, better than yesterday. Tomorrow, better than today”, perfectly sums up a philosophy in which a fighting spirit and continuous improvement is the main engine and the basis of everything. Thanks to Kaizen, Japan rose from its ashes and, in no time, became an economic powerhouse.

The Kaizen method has crossed borders and has become one of the preferred methods for many companies that want to optimize the resources they already have to obtain every last drop of profit. These are the three main points of the Kaizen philosophy:

  • Achieve a perfect and quality product: reduce costs both in the production of the final product and at the energy level.
  • Improve the employment situation of employees through: the creation of a safe environment and workplace where one feels valued, the development of safety protocols that allow promoting safety at work, risk reduction and others dangers.
  • Reduce the environmental impact through an adequate waste management policy. If you want to know more about this point, take a look at this article on How to be a green company.

How to apply the Kaizen continuous improvement process

As you can see, the Kaizen method has advantages that any company, large or small, would be eager to achieve. Whether you are an entrepreneur, want to start your business or work in the quality department of a company, you will be interested in knowing how to apply the Kaizen continuous improvement process. To do this, it is essential to apply what are called the “5 S”:

  • Seiri: in this phase, the question arises of what elements are really necessary to produce (the elements that reduce time and resources) and eliminate or reduce those that have proven to be useless or do not contribute anything to production.
  • Seiton: once the superfluous is eliminated, the seiton must list and organize those elements that are essential in production.
  • Six: this third step consists of the resolution capacity and the reaction that a group of people adopt when faced with a problem. In this “s”, it is important to know how to identify a problem in order to apply the most convenient solution.
  • Seiketsu: human capital is an essential part of every company and the Kaizen method is clear to him. Fostering a positive work environment where there are guarantees of health and safety at work, as well as sufficient incentives, will promote teamwork and excellent performance of all the talents of a business.
  • Shitsuke: means commitment. The commitment of everyone, departments, managers and employees to ensure that the Kaizen method is successfully implemented in the company.

Kaizen method: steps and practical examples

Once the 5 S’s are known and applied, problems may arise in taking the appropriate steps to ensure that the Kaizen method is implemented successfully. Companies such as the vehicle manufacturer Toyota or giants in the world of technology such as Sony, have been working and improving continuously thanks to the Kaizen method for decades, achieving that their products are required worldwide for their quality and excellence. Some practical examples that can help you take the most appropriate steps to achieve Kaizen success are:

  • Learning to communicate: fostering communication between the various departments and hierarchies of a company is vital to detect failures or errors in the management or manufacture of a product, as well as to resolve conflicts and give birth to new ideas that improve and contribute something to the company. Establishing an agenda of meetings with a varied duration and frequency (weekly, monthly, quarterly, …) is an excellent idea.
  • Promote order: maintaining an orderly and clean workplace translates into a way of working with the same characteristics. Picking up our work table after the day will make it possible for us to work much better the next day.
  • Work as a team: surely, this is not the first time you have heard about the importance of teamwork. Organizing groups of a few people (2 or 4, for example) to carry out a project is an excellent idea if we want to promote the involvement and proactivity of employees.

Establish a common goal: that the different teams that we discussed in the previous point have a common goal, it will help each and every one of the employees of a company come together to achieve success. Employee motivation at an individual and global level is essential to achieve the best results, thus nullifying any attempt at sabotage or bad practices within the company.

BusinessFixes Staff

Welcome to BusinessFixes.com, a blog about business, startups, entrepreneurship, success, motivation & How-to Guides. Our job is to share material, information, and strategies that help an entrepreneur anywhere in the world.

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