What is the Kaizen method: steps and examples
Social networks and other media have long talked about the Kaizen method. This, although considered by many a mere type of methodology or business tool, is, in reality, and according to those who have applied it, a philosophy of work and good practices that allows excellence to be achieved in various areas of business activity and, consequently, of one’s own personal life.
If you want to know more about the Kaizen method, the steps that must be followed to carry it out correctly and examples of success about that method, we recommend that you continue reading the following article from info-grinik. Find out what the Kaizen method is: steps and examples.
What is the Kaizen method – Kaizen philosophy
Kaizen philosophy emerged as a socio-economic movement in Japan after World War II. The country, plunged into a crisis that covered all areas of society, saw Western nations progress towards a future that, for them, was increasingly distant. In order to compete with companies and the big giants of Europe and the United States, the Japanese government devised an organization and management system aimed at achieving success and perfection in all areas of a company. To do this, it was necessary to work all fields of the company: human resources, safety, productivity, environment, etc.
With the time and help of the Kaizen methodology, Japanese companies achieved excellence and total quality of their products. His motto: “Today, better than yesterday. Tomorrow, better than today,” perfectly summarizes a philosophy in which a fighting spirit and continuous improvement is the main engine and the basis of everything. Thanks to Kaizen, Japan rose from its ashes and, in a short time, became an economic power.
The Kaizen method has crossed borders and has become one of the preferred methods for many companies that want to optimize those resources they already have to obtain every last drop of profit. These are the three main points of Kaizen philosophy:
- Achieve a perfect and quality product: reduce costs both in the production of the final product and at the energy level.
- Improve the employment situation of employees through: the creation of a safe environment and workplace where one feels valued, the development of safety protocols that promote safety at work, risk reduction and other hazards.
- Reduce environmental impact through an appropriate waste management policy.
How to apply the Kaizen continuous improvement process
As you can see, the Kaizen method has advantages that any company, large or small, would be eager to achieve. Whether you are an entrepreneur or if you want to start your business or work in the quality department of a company, you will be interested in knowing how to apply the Kaizen continuous improvement process. To do this, it is essential to apply what are called the “5 S”:
- Seiri: at this stage, the question arises of what elements are really necessary to produce (the elements that reduce time and resources) and eliminate or reduce those that have proven to be useless or contribute nothing to production.
- Seiton: once the superfluous is eliminated, in the seiton those elements that are essential in production must be listed and organized.
- Six: this third step consists of the resolving capacity and the reaction that a group of people adopts to a problem. In this “s”, it is important to know how to identify a problem in order to apply the most convenient solution.
- Seiketsu: human capital is an essential part of any company and, the Kaizen method, is clear about it. Fostering a positive work environment where there are guarantees of health and safety at work, as well as sufficient incentives, will encourage teamwork and excellent performance of all the talents in a business.
- Shitsuke: it means commitment. The commitment on the part of everyone, departments, managers and employees to ensure that the Kaizen method is successfully implemented in the company.
Kaizen method: steps and practical examples
Once the 5 S is known and begin to be applied, problems can arise when it comes to taking the right steps to ensure that the Kaizen method is successfully implemented. Companies like the Toyota vehicle manufacturer or giants within the world of technology such as Sony, have been working and improving continuously for decades thanks to the Kaizen method, making their products required worldwide for their quality and excellence. Some practical examples that can help you take the most appropriate steps to achieve Kaizen success are:
- Learn to communicate: fostering communication between the various departments and hierarchies of a company is vital to detect failures or errors in the management or manufacture of a product, as well as to resolve conflicts and give birth to new ideas that improve and contribute something to the company. Establishing an agenda of meetings with a varied duration and frequency (weekly, monthly, quarterly, …) is an excellent idea.
- Fostering order: maintaining a tidy and clean workplace translates into a way of working with the same characteristics. Picking up our work table after the day will mean that, the next day, we can work much better.
- Teamwork: surely, this is not the first time you hear about the importance of teamwork. Organizing groups of few people (2 or 4, for example) to carry out a project, is an excellent idea if we want to encourage employee involvement and proactivity.
- Establishing a common goal: that the different teams we discussed in the previous point have a common objective, will help each and every employee of a company to come together to achieve success. Employee motivation at the individual and global level is essential to achieve the best results, thus nullifying any attempt at sabotage or bad practices within the company.