With the start of a new year, you may be looking for ways to set specific improvement goals that enhance your company’s performance. Are you ready to take your company to the next level?
If you’re ready to influence change at your work, check out these ways to infuse Kaizen training into your organization. Kaizen is a discipline that shows companies how to implement continuous improvement. It’s your time to show personal leadership for your organization’s growth.
What Is Kaizen?
Kaizen refers to the activities that persistently improve the functions or processes of a company. Kaizen principles apply to all employees at a company including management and front line workers.
The word Japanese word “kaizen” translates into “change for better.” Over the years, the term has evolved into meaning a philosophy of continuous improvement. Businesses today know that Kaizen is possible, but only in small steps.
The Kaizen business philosophy was created in Japan following World War II. This philosophy discouraged large, sweeping changes to reaching goals. Instead, this philosophy promoted introducing small improvements that could be applied on the same day.
The first Japanese company to apply Kaizen principles was the Toyota Corporation. Toyota Corporation began a concept called quality circles during their production process.
Quality circles are teams of company workers who perform the same work. They’ll meet regularly to pinpoint and fix work-related problems.
These concepts became widespread in the 1950s and continue today throughout the business and manufacturing industries. Much of the Kaizen movement is made possible by the efforts of management consultant Masaaki Imai.
Masaaki Imai is the Japanese organizational expert who became famous for his work on Kaizen quality management. He created the Kaizen Institute Consulting Group (KICG) in 1985 to promote the theories, tools, and systems for Kaizen.
Kaizen and Lean Six Sigma
Kaizen principles overlap with newer philosophies for process improvement called Lean or Six Sigma.
Lean refers to expanding customer value and reducing waste with less work. in processes. This philosophy improves these values with less work. Lean is a way of thinking and acting to improve the business processes in almost all industries.
Six Sigma is the ongoing effort to reduce product and process differences with a specific approach. Six Sigma experts use data to identify waste and service failures in business areas such as design, management, and customer satisfaction.
There are some guiding principles in Kaizen philosophy. These principles aim to create a culture where employees are encouraged to suggest changes and implement improvements in the company.
Kaizen Principles include:
- Eliminate your old previous ideas on how to correct things. Always be positive and don’t ever use the word “can’t.”
- Keep grinding down to discover what’s causing problems. Base your future actions on data and not attitudes.
- You should correct mistakes as soon as you find them. It’s wise not to expect perfection. Partial improvement is ok for now.
Benefits of Kaizen Training
Kaizen training can have long-lasting benefits to both management and front line workers alike. Kaizen principles can increase productivity and improve product quality. Most companies see an increase in safety practices and lower overall costs.
Companies who have tried Kaizen training also reported higher levels of communication and cooperation with their staff. Morale and employee satisfaction are at their highest levels. Company employees will feel a greater personal investment in the company when they see how their direct touch makes a difference.
Onsite Kaizen training has many benefits. Students can learn Kaizen guiding principles and lead improvement projects in their own industry. They learn how to improve production and logistics in a true business setting.
Some universities provide online classes on Kaizen training and philosophy. These classes teach students how to define relevant measurements for studying operational cycles. This coursework can also help students gauge performance and track impacts.
Some companies may choose to host their own Kaizen Event to learn these important foundations. A Kaizen Event is a 3 to 5 days event where groups meet to solve problems at their root cause. Company owners and workers come together to discuss best practices and how to improve the way that work gets done.
The benefit of Kaizen Events is that they bring employees from all levels together to influence change from the top to the bottom of the organizational ladder. Employees from all levels of the organization bring their comments to share.
Sometimes a company may choose to host a smaller event called a Kaizen Blitz. These shorter events provide a single Kaizen course to teach process improvement exercises for team members within a limited time frame. This model helps participants find quick and easy improvements on a short timeline.
Plan, Do, Check, Act Cycle
Kaizen training seminars use a planning and action model to gauge improvement measures on a small scale before launching them live throughout the entire organization. This model is called PDCA cycle. PDCA stands for “plan, do, check and act.”
PDCA offers a simple approach to manage change and solve problems. A typical PDCA will look like this:
- Plan: Recognize an opportunity and set goals for change.
- Do: Put improvements into action. Test these changes.
- Check: Study your results and fix what didn’t work.
- Act: Move ahead based on what you learned. in the study step. If the change did not work, go through the cycle again with a different plan. If you met your goals, take what you learned to incorporate more improvements.
Ready to organize your company’s first Kaizen training event? The good news is that you can start today.
Identify one your company’s products or services that needs improvement. Consult with your management team to find ways to engage all employees to suggest and apply improvements. Walk your teams through the PDCA process to find small improvements that take place in one day.
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