Are you familiar with the Kaizen approach?
Known for being a quality management, collaboration, and continuous improvement tool, the Kaizen approach advocates progressive change management in a business, while limiting risks.
More efficient, more productive, more competent... We are constantly pushed to be better while going to the essential. This can be quite a challenge!
There are two schools of thought for this: radical change or continuous improvement. The fast track or the slow track. Pressure or experimentation. The Kaizen method, in the second category, is appreciated in process management for its reassuring side, supervised and not rushed, with the perspective of a soft but constant evolution.
From productivity to well-being at work, we will explain how this managerial technique works. And, perhaps you will want to try it?
A true Japanese development philosophy, kaizen is composed of two words, kai 改, and zen 善 which means "change" and "better".
Also known as the small-step work improvement approach, or the method of continuous improvement, the Kaizen approach was developed in the United States under the Training With Industry (TWI) program, set up by consultants (including W. Edwards Deming) under the supervision of General MacArthur, to help the Japanese industry recover after World War II.
Masaaki Imai made the term famous in 1986 with his book “Kaizen: The Key to Japan's competitive success”.
Initially implemented in the industrial sector, it was used for lean manufacturing, a management approach to reduce waste and increase profits.
Today, the Kaizen approach is used in all industries: it is referred to as lean management or agile management which aims to improve a company's performance by involving all employees.
The approach, therefore, requires a corporate culture adapted to this philosophy, and sometimes even guidance to change.
Be careful not to confuse the Kaizen approach with the Kaizen workshop, or kaizen blitz, or kaikaku (reform), which is used for major changes in a production system, a reengineering.
The Kaizen approach is increasingly used for personal development. Moreover, it is a vital tool for people who fear failure, abrupt changes, and frustration. They can use this approach to help learn a foreign language without putting pressure on themselves, quit smoking little by little and even overcome their shyness.
The Kaizen approach consists of 5 founding elements :
Chi va piano va sano ! (Slowly but surely!)
One step at a time!
Toyota has been using the Kaizen approach since it was created, it is the best ambassador of the approach and the use it to improve processes, tools, and skills to :
Are you afraid to step out of your comfort zone? Then, the Kaizen approach is an ideal solution for you! It can be used to :
In short, the Kaizen approach improves the feasibility of a project and the morale of the teams!
We are more creative without stress. But adopting an improvement process that is too gradual can be a barrier to breakthrough innovation. Indeed, this requires making "leaps" forward from time to time and reactivity that is incompatible with the time constraints of continuous improvement.
As a result, Toyota has set aside the Kaizen approach for the manufacturing of its autonomous vehicles. Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, explained :
At Toyota, Kaizen or Continuous Improvement, is at the heart of everything we do. It remains the foundation and one of our biggest strengths. However, in these unprecedented times, we need additional approaches. In this particular domain, it’s simply not enough to only take small steps. You have to take leaps, which often results in failure. If you are lucky, after you have the courage to keep on failing again and again, you suddenly succeed.
However, an innovative company can still use the Kaizen approach to review internal administrative procedures, routine projects. They can even integrate it into the management of an innovative project by combining several methods, depending on the tasks, flexibility and reactivity they require.
Here is a video that explains how the Kaizen approach works:
Many different approaches are used to break down projects, plan tasks, find the causes of problems, manage resources and monitor progress.
Among them (non-exhaustive list) :
With a new generation of software in SaaS (Software as a Service) mode, there are many tools that you can use to improve your processes and continuous improvement.
Thanks to the real-time collection of production data, or taking into account feedback from project managers, these IT solutions are constantly improving and adapting to the needs of their users.
In addition, unlike on-premise software installed in workstations and requires purchasing updates, cloud solutions are constantly evolving with technological improvements.
What do you think, are you Kaizen-minded?
The well-being of a business depends on the well-being of its employees and on making their work easier.
There are many existing methods; choose the ones that fit your corporate culture and that have been proven to work in your teams. And why not combine them to meet special, continuous or short-term needs?
For several years now, appvizer has been improving the daily life of teams and managers by using the right tools.
Check out our articles and reviews and let us know what you think. This is the way to continuous improvement!