As it has been said before in this blog, Kaizen is the philosophy of continuous improvement. It involves everyone within an organization and it needs to be performed every day in order to be successful. It can take place individually, locally or on a larger scale, affecting groups and multi-level teams.
Change is never a simple thing. People and companies need to be prepared for it in order to succeed. Kaizen needs to be implemented gradually, otherwise, mistakes will be easily made. In this article, David Kiger will talk about eight critical things that companies need to avoid during the implementation of Kaizen if they want to be successful.
1 . Charter
A charter is used to set the framework of Kaizen. The charter regulates the time frame, problem statement, background information, team members, involved resources, and the way improvement will be measured and evaluated.
Lacking a charter is one of the most common mistakes made by companies in the process of applying Kaizen. A charter is always needed to define which is the direction the company is going to take.
2. Critical Success Factors
Kaizen can only be successful if a company is able to identify the critical elements related to each one of its internal and external processes. Companies need to know their most critical processes in order to define the Kaizen route of continuous improvement.
Once you have identified your company’s critical success factors, you will know how to measure improvement. Some of the worst mistakes companies make are related to their critical success factors. Companies need to identify these factors and set tools to measure their improvement, otherwise, Kaizen will be a never ending process.
Kaizen is all about a continuous improvement that takes place in small steps. In order for companies to tackle their problems, it is important for them to define which problems will be treated. When companies don’t pick the amount or size of issues they want to tackle, it is very likely for them to fail.
When the scope is too large, the implementation of improvement becomes quite difficult.
4. Business Plan
Kaizen needs to be linked to the company’s business plan, otherwise, it will fail. Kaizen needs to meet your company’s needs and goals to avoid wasting resources in vain and creating even bigger problems.
Kaizen can only be applied when the company’s efforts are oriented to solve its own issues, which need to be defined by its business plan.
Related: Kaizen for entrepreneurs
5 . Team Selection
Improvement can only take place thanks to manpower. Your team is the one in charge of applying the continuous improvement policies. If you fail in the selection of your team, you will have issues implementing Kaizen. It is vital for companies to include the selection of the ideal team within their business plans.
A good way to avoid making mistakes in this area is choosing your team members based on their skills, prior experiences, expertise or knowledge, among other personal qualities. Also, members of your team will need to have complementary skills based on your company’s needs. This way, Kaizen is more likely to become part of your company’s culture.
6. High Standards
If you strive to achieve perfection, you are condemned to fail. Kaizen is about taking small steps towards improvement. Perfection is often elusive and it can be frustrating when companies fail to achieve it.
Try to set goals based on your business plan that is intended to address some of the most pressing issues inside your company. These goals will need to be achievable and based on the current results. A charter is an ideal tool in this sense, due to the fact that it is the place where your goals will be described.
Once you have achieved the first set of goals, you can move forward to a new set of goals. This way Kaizen will be easy to apply and improvement will be tangible.
7. Follow Up
Many companies are quite good at setting a neat chart based on its pressing issues and business plans. They are even good at implementing some changes gradually in order to improve their processes and solve some of their most critical issues. However, they tend to fail in the process of following through the things that have been applied.
Failing in following up can result in the failure of Kaizen. Ensuring the improvement made during a timeframe is only possible thanks to constant reviews and feedback.
Implementing Kaizen can often be confusing and challenging for team members. Sometimes, along the process frustration may show up. This is why it becomes relevant to share the obtained results thanks to the implementation of Kaizen.
People can be motivated once they are able to see that their efforts are paying back results to the company and they are working together as a team to make Kaizen possible.
* Featured Image courtesy of tec_estromberg at Flickr.com