How to implement the Kaizen philosophy in your company

Though it may still sound strange for many who perhaps have not heard about it before, the Kaizen philosophy, or more precisely, the Kaizen Management Philosophy, is not new at all. It is in fact an old concept, but with a new force in the production industry. To understand it better, it is good to know that the term “Kaizen” comes from the combination of two Japanese ideograms. One is “Kai”, which means change, transformation, the transit from one state to another. And the other is “Zen”, which refers to becoming something better. The combination of these two ideograms points to the idea of that change or that transformation that something suffers in order to become something better than what it was before. And more precisely, it points to the idea of a continuous process of improvement.

The concept acquired a predominant role in the business world in the Postwar period, when it became a crucial factor for the success of several Japanese companies in different sorts of industries. Some examples of them are Honda, Toyota, Toshiba and Sony, to mention just a few. The main reason for this interest in the Kaizen philosophy is that it does not apply only to issues having to do with quality and processes of mass production, but also to every kind of small change that can be spread in a company and have a beneficial impact on all its processes. In this way, Kaizen philosophy helps to improve the way in which people work in the different areas of a company, no matter whether they have to do with the services that the company provides, customer support, human resources, sales, marketing, security, logistics, and so on.

So, it is indeed a good idea to implement Kaizen philosophy in your company. But before telling you how to do it, the following are some additional reasons to do it.

Why it is time for your company to go Kaizen

You can know that it is time for you to start considering the application of Kaizen philosophy in your company as a serious option when you realize that there is indeed a need to change the characteristic way of thinking of the persons or groups that belong to it. People may be functioning in a certain way for a certain period of time, and perhaps that has worked good enough so far for your company, but not in fact with all the results that you would like it to have. If you want better results and understand how to get them, but at the same time you feel that your company moves rather slowly, with a clearly pachydermic rhythm, then it is probably time to go Kaizen.

iPhone Wallpaper_kaizen_david kiger
Image courtesy of Patrick Hoesly at Flickr.com

The main goal when you go Kaizen is to produce a continuous improvement in the processes of your company in order to give your customers a much better and richer experience. Such added value is achieved through a systematic analysis of all the processes performed by the company. And the end of that analysis is to find ways to make them better every day. Your company has a huge number of capabilities and abilities developed through its history, and you must do your best to take advantage of all of them in order to produce a more solid company.

So, let us implement the Kaizen philosophy in your company

First of all, it is important that all those in charge learn how to apply new concepts in all the processes under their responsibility. Such concepts are related to the management of your human resources, so the company can get much better results without betraying its own culture. Therefore, it is not enough that the executives receive detailed reports about the different situations that can be identified in the processes of the company. It is also necessary that they take the time to do some visits, so they can evaluate by themselves what is going on in the company and why.

As a result, any company interested in implementing the Kaizen philosophy must pay attention to the following three key activities:

  • Standardization. This activity refers to the best way to employ a certain process. The idea is that the process should become more precise and secure, but at the same time that its implementation should also appear easier to everyone involved. The process must turn into a really productive one, because the purpose is to guarantee the quality of the product or service for the customer.
  • Housekeeping. This activity metaphorically refers to the need of keeping everything clean and in order in your company regarding all its processes. This may stimulate everyone to obtain the best possible results, without falling into tedious routines in the workplace.
  • Waste management. This activity refers to the elimination of all those activities that have no clear added value for the company, and for that reason contribute nothing to its development.
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