Kaizen is the Japanese term for “improvement” or “change for the better”, and idea that is being used when approaching processes in manufacturing, production, engineering, management and the support of other business procedures. Kaizen is so adaptable that it can be applied to almost any type of industry including banking, government, healthcare, retail, and transportation, but the benefits of this amazing methodology are not limited to the world of commerce.
Kaizen can and it is used successfully also by people trying to make improvements in their personal lives and to achieve development through life coaching and in mentoring programs. The use of Kaizen was initially coined by Toyota many years ago and both names now go together when it comes to talking about the best examples of the method’s implementation. Looking at the examples set by companies that have successfully used Kaizen and that today continue to credit its implementation as part of the formula for their accomplishments, is a great way to gauge its effectiveness and to further understand how it can benefit your particular case.
Today in David Kiger’s Blog, we want to take a look at some of the most important companies that continue to use Kaizen and show you how this productive method can cross boundaries and apply equally to many different types of businesses.
The Japanese automotive manufacturer is one of the most famous companies using Kaizen and they are responsible for making this method known and for proving that its results are measurable, proven and extremely effective. Kaizen’s methodology is one that focuses on the constant improvement of processes by making small and gradual adjustments to the way things are done. Toyota has used this method for decades and has the taken advantage of its principles in many different levels of the organization.
Ford Motor Company
While Toyota may be the most famous car manufacturer to use Kaizen, they are by no means the only ones. Ford adopted the Kaizen philosophy since Alan Mulally was appointed CEO in 2006 and under the leadership of Mark Fields they continued using the same principles that helped them gain an advantage in the industry. Ford decided to focus on implementing practices that allow them to make their processes more efficient and finding ways to reduce times by slowly but surely, correcting procedures in ways that ensure that every single time a process is repeated, it is done in a more efficient manner than before.
Nestlé is a great example of how Kaizen can be used across different industries, in this case, the food industry with one of the most important firms worldwide who have implemented Kaizen. Lean production has been an aspect of Kaizen that Nestlé has taken seriously and they have made great improvements in the reduction of waste by lowering the time and materials wasted on their processes. Lean production is focused on finding ways to not only reduce waste, but also in finding methods to best use the space available, the resources on hand and the best utilization of talent and technology the company has in their arsenal.
The Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit medical practice and medical research group that decided to follow the lead of Toyota by closely studying how Kaizen was able to help such a complex manufacturing operation to improve their practices. They believed that if a company like Toyota could use Kaizen, they could do it as well by adapting the philosophy to health care. The industry of health is very complex and there are many moving parts to it that can be benefited by Kaizen. Methods, waiting times, handling of patient records and the best use of resources are areas in which Kaizen can make a different and has done so in the case of Mayo Clinic and other healthcare organizations worldwide.
Lockheed Martin is the famous American global aerospace, defense, security and advanced Technologies Company. It is located in Bethesda, Maryland. Lockheed Martin has around 116,000 employees worldwide and it was chosen as one of Industry Week’s “Top 10 Plants” in 1998. In the period from 1992 through 1997, the company was able to notably reduce its costs of manufacturing while lowering their defect rate to 3.4 instances per plane; and also lower their order to delivery time from 42 months to just below 22. Using kaizen methodologies to meticulously apply lean manufacturing, Lockheed Martin was awarded the Shingo Prize for Excellence in 2000. Another notable accomplishment was in the area of material management, where they were able to reduce the time to move parts from receiving to stock from 30 days to just four hours.
In 2010, Lockheed Martin developed its Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) system while at the same time they held multiple Kaizen events at their Florida and Alabama plants in order to improve the way that the JAGM is manufactured itself.
* Featured Image courtesy of Barthy Bonhomme at Pexels.com