It is a Japanese term that suggests continuous improvement where “Kai” means continuous and “Zen” means improvement. Others translation predicts “Kai” means change and “Zen” means for the better. Basically, it is a Japanese philosophy that aims at continuous improvement throughout all aspects of life.
Kaizen activities lead to continuous improvement across all business functions including manufacturing to management. It eliminates waste by improving standardized activities and processes. As per the modern usage, a “kaizen blitz” or “kaizen event” is a set of activities that is designed to address a particular issue over the course of a week. It is limited in scope.
Kaizen is a process that humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work and focuses on applying the scientific method while performing experiments and aims at identifying and eliminating waste in business processes. The philosophy suggests that daily activities of business procedures should effectively implement kaizen principles.
The cycle of kaizen activity comprises of following activities:
(1) Standardizing an operation
(2) Measuring the standardized operation (find cycle time and amount of in-process inventory)
(3) Gauging measurements against requirements
(4) Displaying creativity to meet requirements and increase productivity
(5) Standardizing the new, improved operations
(6) Continuing the cycle ad infinitum.
Integration of Six Sigma, Lean and Kaizen in a business project leads to breakthrough improvement. Leadership, creativity, and innovation are the chief drivers of growth in any organization. Every strategic improvement initiative requires the following elements
Leadership, Creativity, and Innovation: This element drives the cultural change, mentors the organization and leads to the alignment of the strategy and deployment. By integrating the Six Sigma, Lean, and Kaizen, leadership team can provide clearer focus on improving profitability and competitiveness.
Teaming and Employee Involvement: This element suggests that people need to be equipped with the right tools and they should be empowered to take responsible actions to drive the growth.
Closed-Loop Performance: This element includes real time performance measurement that allows the people to understand the cause-and-effect relationship between their actions and the improvement goals.