We have talked about Kaizen in other posts, showing to our readers that it is a Japanese working way for increasing the production in organizations. Today, it is one of the most effective elements for improving the manufacturing processes in companies. Through this thinking way, they not only reduce costs and waste but also create better products and services for their customers, adding value and being more competitive in the industry they belong.
The Kaizen methodologies are not only for those manufacturing companies with large production chains. This philosophy can be also used by organizations from different industries, like banking, telecommunications, healthcare, sports, and more. In this article, we will see some significant organizations using Kaizen for improving their products for their customers, giving to them a better experience and quality services.
Kaizen in a few words
If this concept is new to you, the easier way to understand it is that Kaizen means constant processes improvement. In other words, this working way is mainly focused on increasing the quality of what a company produces, being more effective, efficient, competitive and reducing costs.
This term has its origins in Japan when different statistical experts from the United States started to putting in practice some new production methodologies after the World War II. Under these revolutionary manufacturing ideas, the Japanese industry had excellent results, becoming one of the most prosperous and powerful economies in the world.
The Kaizen thinking, involves every member of the organization, letting them participate and contribute in the construction of this strategy. Put differently, if every worker in the company is focused on improving every production process, then the organization will achieve the best results, reaching high-quality standards.
Having clear the Kaizen context and what its origin and philosophy are, then we can talk about some successful cases of companies working under this thinking, having very fruitful results.
The Great Western Bank
Although it was purchased by Washington Mutual (now JPMorgan Chase) in 1997 for almost $7 billion dollars, this financial institute was an excellent example of the using the Kaizen thinking. The Great Western Bank was founded in 1919 in California, being one of the largest savings and loan banks in the United States, having presence in Florida, New York, Arizona, and Washington.
The Great Western Bank was considered before applying the Kaizen methodology, one of the most tedious financial institutions for having a banking account. For opening one of these products, a regular customer had to pass for 34 stages, making it a very exhaustive process. After the introduction of the Kaizen thinking, this procedure reduced its 34 steps into 24. In addition, thanks to this optimization, the company decreased some of their internal costs, which gave not only benefits to their users, but also to them, showing what we have mentioned before: using Kaizen not only brings external profits but also internal.
Founded in 1995 in Bethesda, Maryland, this is considered one of the most important and biggest aeroespacial and war resources organizations in the world. For decades, this company has been the main military contractor of the United States, and one of the largest arms and military technology suppliers in the planet. Today, this company has incomes for more than $50.000 billion dollars per year, employing almost 120.000 people in the world.
This military organization is well recognized for being one of the companies that best applies the Kaizen philosophy. In 2010, Lockheed Martin worked under the Kaizen thinking for developing a new missile prototype, showing that this manufacturing methodology not only operates for established and defined processes, but also for new ones.
This organization is currently the biggest manufacturer of office and home furniture in the United States. Founded in 1905 in Michigan, this company has incomes for more than $170 million dollars per year. Herman Miller is considered the creator of the cubicle-type office in 1968, thanks to the research and directives of Robert Propst, who was the Director of Research at that time and considered “the Father of the cubicle”. Besides its creations, this organization has been also the platform for important industrial and spaces designers.
For more than 15 years, Herman Miller has been adopting the Kaizen thinking for its regular and new products. Since the application of this philosophy, the company has increased its productivity by more than 1.000%, reaching manufacturing times of 17 seconds, after having them in 82.
As we mentioned before, the Kaizen thinking can be applied to any industry or business field. In this article, we showed how this philosophy not only has benefited manufacturing organizations but also services companies like banks. We have also seen that Kaizen not only improves defined processes but also helps to optimize the procedures for new creations and developments.
Related: The different phases for Kaizen implementation by David Kiger
* Featured Image courtesy of Dave Pinter at Flickr.com