In 1986, Masaaki Imai founded the Kaizen Institute Consulting Group (KICG) to help western companies to introduce the concepts, systems, and tools of Kaizen. That year, in Japan he also published the book “Kaizen: Japanese spirit of improvement," which helped to popularize the Kaizen concept in the United States. He believed that “The message of the Kaizen strategy is that not a day should go by without some kind of improvement being made somewhere in the company.”
Most leaders would likely agree with that sentiment, but it is certainly easier said than done. In order to achieve daily improvement, there must be a structure for both supporting and measuring it. Without visibility into the work of Kaizen, leaders can’t say whether daily improvement is happening, nor can they take action to accelerate the pace of positive change. Fortunately, Kaizen software provides this insight and offers other significant advantages as well.
Leaders Invest in What They Value
Kaizen isn’t a thing that you do - it is a value, a philosophy that you embrace. It is most effective when it becomes a central part of the culture from the c-suite to the front lines. Implementing software to support and measure its impact sends a clear signal to the organization that it is important to the executive team. And, perhaps more importantly, that leadership is committed to providing tools to help improvement work succeed. It’s a way of putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak.
Kaizen Takes Center Stage
When we talk to companies that are struggling to achieve daily improvement, we find that often the problem is simply that people are so focused on doing what must be done every day, that improvement projects get pushed to the side, or opportunities for change are never documented at all. Kaizen software helps solve this problem by giving people a central place to log every opportunity for improvement. Once a project is started, it also provides notifications and alerts to make sure that improvement work stays top of mind and that progress isn’t stalled.
Objectives are Aligned
Improvement work shouldn’t be random. It should be focused on the things that need to happen to help the organization reach its most important business objectives. This can only happen when each person knows what those objectives are and how their work can help the company get there. Kaizen software keeps goals aligned at the company, department, team, and individual level. When everyone is rowing in the same direction, breakthrough aspirations can be realized more quickly.
Collaboration is Boundless
Many of the biggest opportunities to improve the flow of value and reduce waste can be found where handoffs from one process or function to another occur. This means that much Kaizen work involves cross-functional collaboration. Unfortunately, too many companies operate in silos with little communication between groups and these opportunities to change the game are missed. Kaizen software eliminates this problem by providing a single unified platform for positive change. Teams can see which improvement projects are underway in other functional areas. Subject matter experts can be pulled into improvement work where needed and communication is seamless and consistent.
Proactive Management is Possible
To achieve daily improvement, managers must monitor the progress of projects - well - daily. That’s a tough challenge if your only tools are spreadsheets and email. Kaizen software, on the other hand, makes it easy to check in on the status of improvement work and spot roadblocks before they become showstoppers. If needed, managers can step in to add resources, provide coaching, or adjust targets. The solution acts as an early warning system to help keep Kaizen work on track.
Impact Can be Measured
While it is not a bad idea to improve for improvement’s sake, it is much better if those improvements result in measurable business impact. Without technology in place, it can be a challenge to track results and to recognize and reward the people who make them happen. Implementing a platform that manages improvement work from beginning to end and calculates the results in terms of cost savings, increased revenue, improved quality, safer conditions, and so forth over the long term helps create excitement around Kaizen and ensures that improvement work gets the attention it deserves.
Most important functions in a modern business have technology in place to support them. If Kaizen is important to yours, it makes sense to select a system designed to manage improvement work. Our clients are convinced that it is a key element of success.