The Gujarat governments in India and their kaizen approach

We already are familiar with the concept of Kaizen. We have already seen many examples and definitions in previous articles. We have seen companies reach success and some reach failures as well. We have seen big companies using kaizen and small companies using kaizen concepts. Today we are going to take a look at a Kaizen case where the public sector was involved and changed some bureaucracy timings into a very efficient government office. Here is the case of Kaizen improvement in the Gujarat government in India.

India is not known for its strong institutions or for their efficiency in the bureaucratic sector. But in 2009, Kaizen went to India, especially to the state of Gujarat, to make things better and set things straight.  The Education Department was the one in charge of teaching and making the necessary changes in order to apply the Kaizen philosophy in the public sector. The phase A of the Kaizen Implementation Project, which was very important for the region and the country, was launched in a ceremony, with more than 200 officers, politicians  and bureaucrats.  We can argue that this event marked the beginning of a huge change in the way people viewed the country and the system in India and it set the first stone towards a change of course in the entire country.

The adventure of taking the Kaizen philosophy to India had clear goals and specific areas where the change needed to be applied. It was focused on the public servants and their capacity to increase the value of the work they performed and the services they provided by accomplishing more and more with the limited resources they received. It was a very high goal to reach as the staff had to be taught how to be committed to the path of continuous improvement that would eventually increase their efficiency, thus, their value to society.

Government of Gujarat_kaizen_david kiger
Image courtesy of Ford Asia Pacific at

Before even applying the Kaizen philosophy, the corporate culture had to be molded in order to make it easier to teach the continuous improvement approach. A first pilot project was designed in order to motivate employees and to create a mental awareness and enthusiasm about the Kaizen Spirit and its concepts. Also, the project acted as a way to encourage discussions about various enhancement possibilities and a framework to structure better processes and improve the work stations. As in any Kaizen strategy, some Kaizen consultants were sent to the location and along other public sector servants, they analyzed the atmosphere to implement process improvements and strategies that would contribute to more efficiency.

In order to make the Kaizen approach successful, the Gujarat state used the 4P method designed by the Kaizen institute to support and encourage public sectors to use systematic and comprehensive change management and standardization systems in their strategies. This includes the following definitions for each “P”:

  • Physical Workplace Improvement
  • Process Improvement
  • Policy Change
  • People Involvement

After defining these categories, there were some measurements that had to be followed in order to comply with the minimum requirements that a country needs:

  • Processes have to achieve their intended results;
  • Resources that are used have to be consistent;
  • Processes and resources have to be protected from waste;
  • Laws and regulations have to be followed
  • Reliable and timely information must be obtained, maintained, reported and used for decision making.

The application had very good results and saw some considerable changes in the measurements. The time that the public sector staff took to do some tasks was reduced considerably:  the annual grants procedure for government aided institutes was reduced to 45 days, when it used to take almost 951 days. At the same time, one of the advanced settlement process was reduced to 15 days, from 60 days.

This Kaizen application was developed in two stages. In stage one, Kaizen consultants were committed to help clients improve the performance of their companies and agencies in the private sector before passing to the public sector. Now, stage 2, was the application of Kaizen in the public sector and an aim towards the growth and development of India as a whole. The feeling of people in the Gujarat state, and in India in general, can be summarized in the way they viewed the whole process. It was evident that the stage 2 of the kaizen philosophy was aimed at the financial rewards of consulting people on how to apply Kaizen principles to their work, the values which are brought to the table by the Kaizen approach which in turn are multiplied when all the employees and people get involved and the strengthening of values.

Once again, we see that the Kaizen philosophy can be applied in as many processes as you can imagine. It is just about continuous improvement.

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