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3 Components of an Effective Kaizen Management System

Posted by Mark Graban

Apr 24, 2014 9:00:00 AM

2340356697_76763ac2bd_mWhat It Takes for Your Kaizen Management System to Be a Success

Does “Kaizen,” or “good change” happen naturally in an organization? In my experience, it can happen naturally, since nearly everybody has ideas about how to improve their workplace, and a desire to make those improvements happen.  

But does Kaizen naturally happen, in practice? Not usually.

That’s why a Kaizen Management System is critically important.

What does an effective Kaizen Management System look like?


  1. A Specific Methodology

    There is a very well-defined body of knowledge and methodology out there that defines Kaizen as a set of practices and mindsets. You can learn about this method in a number of books including Kaizen, Healthcare Kaizen, and The Idea-Driven Organization.

    Kaizen, as method of continuous improvement, is NOT the typical failed suggestion box approach. Kaizen includes specific principles and practices that make efforts succeed where suggestion boxes fail by keeping ideas visible, responding quickly to staff ideas, and working collaboratively staff to implement ideas.

    Having a specific methodology such as Kaizen helps prevent the frustration that ensues when leadership asks for staff ideas and then does not having a formal process for addressing those ideas.

  2. Leadership

    The second key aspect of a Kaizen Management System is the role of leaders. What are their assumptions, beliefs, and mindsets? How do they spend their time and behave each day? If we have a specific methodology, but do not have the right leadership in place to lead that methodology in practice, we won’t have continuous improvement.

    Leaders have to believe their employees can identify meaningful opportunities for improvement. These leaders must respond to identified problems and ideas in a positive, constructive manner. You can learn more about the role of leaders in the book The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen.

    Having a formal leadership approach that’s taught and nurtured amongst leaders greatly improves your chances for success. 

  3. Supporting Technology

    Having a methodology and the right leadership in place still requires some form of supporting technology to help manage the Kaizen work. How do people at different locations learn about the improvement work done by their peers? How do leaders know the impact created by their efforts? How do we know which parts of the organization are improving more than others, and which need more guidance? How do we answer these questions, and provide visibility to staff and leadership?

    For some organizations, that has meant spreadsheets or Sharepoint. We think KaiNexus is a better platform for keeping everybody in the same page, tabulating results, and sharing and spreading improvements.


What do you think is required for an effective Kaizen Mangagement System? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!


Topics: Kaizen

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