The ongoing juncture of accelerated and continuous changes in the technological field alongside the obvious shrinking of product lifecycles, the emergence of new consumer habits —consumers who, day after day, are capable of collecting more information regarding their preferences, and who consequently have become more demanding— and the relentless competition between companies and organizations at a global level have ultimately created an obvious need to implement more efficient techniques that allow the corporate world to face these new challenges efficiently towards the future. This new context to which companies are subjected, where communications have shown an outstanding development —the Internet, supply chain tendencies, transportation, the creation of economic clusters, etc.—, and have enabled companies to reach out to more customers worldwide, demands the integration of much more effective and efficient processes that allow companies reduce costs and be more competitive. Managers and supply chain managers ought to pay special attention to how are they going to generate a general outline in terms of strategic steps whereby they plan on increasing their competitiveness, as it is the main factor that will mark the near future in accordance to the current framework.
Amongst the existent trends, philosophies, and tools, which expert David Kiger has been previously addressing, Kaizen, or “continuous improvement”, in spite the fact of having been conceived roughly 30 years ago, has proven to be applicable to the different processes or activities within a company. Kaizen is actually a really versatile philosophy: managers, and by extension companies and organizations can harness its wide scope and apply it to every single idea they come up with, as the philosophy entails a harmonious nature, and involves every single person in the company: from directors to employees.
During the two decades that preceded the oil crisis, the world’s economy demanded an insatiable amount of new developments in terms of new technologies and products. It was a period of time where innovation lived up by its name, as the emergence of new devices and technologies allowed companies to come up with new strategies for thriving under a framework of higher margins. Nowadays juncture has forced companies to base their strategies in relying on technology, given the fact that markets, and by extension customers, are now valuing more quality over quantity. Companies and organizations ought to spare no effort in providing their customer with better, more affordable, products. The Kaizen philosophy allows companies to focus on the ongoing development of new strategies to achieve such goal. Applying Kaizen embodies the knowledge and techniques often inherent to the company’s operations management, organizational behavior, quality department, costs, maintenance, productivity, innovation, and logistics, suggesting that striving to disrupt the current statu quo does not seem as difficult as it might seem at first sight. Continuous improvement can be achieved through the use of the current tools, however, seizing the existent and available tools will definitely help companies and organizations improve and enhance the way they have been conducting the interactions between different parts of the companies since everybody is involved in such process. The message to which all employees ought to pay special attention is that not a single day should pass without assessing whether a certain improvement or enhancement can be carried out.
Seeking to improve the company’s standards —quality, costs, idle times, delivery times, productivity, etc.— is the focus to which a company should aim at: bettering the current status is what will definitely help a company thrive under today’s corporate and market circumstances, and consequently enable it to reach out more accurate to their customers while providing better experiences during and after their purchases.
The harmonious nature of this philosophy allows every employee to recognize any trouble with their duties, thusly providing them with the key factors they ought to pay special attention to in order to solve them. Kaizen is characterized by several aspects that will help readers understand in more depth the perks of its application: it involves every employee in this continuous improvement process, as they will be able to suggest the changes that they think can lead the company to attain a much efficient degree of effectiveness. The idea is for employees to use both their hands and brains. Additionally, it helps the company to strengthen the relationship between its independent areas, as it is of high importance to ensure that information flows smoothly. Bear in mind that this competitive juncture demands that companies pay more attention to teamwork, for it is the only way to add value to their processes and to their customers. Kaizen also changes the corporate mindset and drives companies and organizations to think more process-oriented, since in order to get better results, a company must first improve its processes. And finally, it will ultimately lead companies and organizations to generate a more accurate outline regarding what type of products or services will serve their consumers better, thusly providing them with better products and purchasing experiences.