One of the questions that we get asked most often by leadership teams trying to adopt the Kaizen approach to business that made Toyota so successful is who in the organization needs to be involved? It’s a good question, but one that’s relatively easy to answer by examining the principles behind the Kaizen philosophy.
Kaizen means “positive change” or “continuous improvement” in Japanese. Those who practice Kaizen believe that small changes can produce impressive results and that ideas for positive change should come from the people doing the work. When Toyota introduced Kaizen, they made it clear that continuous improvement was everyone’s job. The goal of modern organizations is to develop a culture of improvement that envelops every single member of the team.
Once you realize that everyone should participate in Kaizen, but the next question is how? Each role has a different set of responsibilities related to improvement.