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What is Kaizen, A-Z

Posted by Maggie Millard

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Apr 3, 2015 6:20:00 AM

3746488608_22a5765e9c_mWhen you're just getting started on your continuous improvement journey, it's easy to get confused by the vast amount of improvement disciplines. Here I'm going to break down the basics of Kaizen for you. 

According to wikipedia, Kaizen is "Chinese and Japanese for "change for better". When used in the business sense and applied to the workplace, kaizen refers to activities that continually improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers. It also applies to processes, such as purchasing and logistics, that cross organizational boundaries into the supply chain."

That's a good start - but here, we'll break it down for you. Keep reading to see the A-Z of "what is Kaizen."

What is Kaizen, A to Z:  Accepting "better," while continuously pursuing "best." Blaming bad processes for failures, not people. Creating a sustainable culture of improvement. Daily improvement everywhere, from everyone. Encouraging people to speak up about problems, with or without a solution. Finding new ways to improve the satisfaction of customers and employees. Going to see the problem in its current state before trying to solve it. Hearing what employees have to say, and taking quick action in response. Incremental improvement - small ideas accumulate to have a big impact. Japanese origins, brought to the US by Masaaki Imai. KaiNexus (yes, that's a shameless plug for our continuous improvement software). Letting everyone improve their own work. Many unique perspectives. New ideas challenging old routines. Original ideas becoming tribal knowledge. PDSA. Quality. Recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions. Software that supports the leadership behaviors and methodology necessary for a Kaizen culture. Trusting leadership and staff to respect each other's time and ideas. Uncovering opportunities for improvement. Value stream improvement. Working collaboratively. Yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily reviews of results. Zero tolerance for waste.

Have a better idea for any of the letters? I'd love to hear them! Please, wow me with an X word. 

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Topics: Kaizen

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