The term "Kaizen" is a combination of two Japanese words "Kai" meaning "change" and "zen" meaning "good," and evolves from the ancient Japanese philosophy of actions that lead to sustainable benefits for the society as a whole rather than one particular individual, or actions that benefit everyone rather than one at another's expense.
In corporate parlance, Kaizen denotes continuous and compounded improvement in all aspects and functions of a business, from manufacturing to management and from the CEO to the assembly line workers. Kaizen entails establishment and adherence to a standard, finding out ways to better that standard, and replacing the existing standard with this new way, and so on.
Kaizen is a daily activity, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is also a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work, and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method and how to learn to spot and eliminate waste in business processes.
[...] Problem Identification or Improvement The starting point for implementation of Kaizen is the recognition of the need or the problem to be resolved. This means evaluating the existing technological. Managerial and operational standards, to find out whether there are any waste, inefficiencies, or redundancies in such standards. Identifying problems is often difficult as wasteful movements are an integral part of the work or production sequence. It is the responsibility of managers to not only inculcate problem identification and problem solving skills among the workforce, through various interventions such as training programs, awareness sessions, Organizational Development Interventions and the like, but also provide cues to identify problems in the organizational context. [...]
[...] through his book, Kaizen: The Key to Japan's Competitive Success. THE PRECURSORS TO KAIZEN Kaizen began to take shape in the 1950s in post World War-II Japan. Since the war destroyed most of the existing industries, Japan started afresh from scratch. Every day, managers and workers had to encounter new challenges, and resolving each challenge meant a step up or progress. A major influence during this period was the “Training within Industry” initiative pioneered by the American Occupation Forces. General Douglas MacArthur, entrusted by the USA to oversee the re-building of Japan invited two management experts, W. [...]
[...] The use of kamban enhances the communication system and thereby the process flow to such an extent that it becomes possible to make a complete automobile by evening, out of an engine block brought into the plant in morning. Another new concept introduced by Toyota is Jidohka or autonomation. This provided for the machine stopping and the entire system shutting down every time on production of a defective work piece. All line personnel, along with their supervisor would then suggest an improvement. [...]
[...] Unlike the latter, it is easy to incorporate such small changes. The philosophy brings back the thought process into the automated production environment dominated by repetitive tasks that traditionally required little mental participation from the employees. Moreover, the quality of benefit introduced sustains forever. The kaizen approach is markedly different from a result-oriented approach. For instance, the evaluation of a salesman's performance under the kaizen approach would include processes such as time spend on calling new customers, time spend on clerical work, percentage of new enquiries successfully closed and the like. [...]
[...] Not only would the supervisors have to embrace the concept in their domain, they would also have to ensure maintenance of the two critical workplace conditions necessary for the success of kaizen, namely discipline, and adherence to standards. They would have to formulate the specific plans for kaizen and guide the individual workers in the implementation of kaizen, as well as support activities like quality circles and individual suggestion system through which suggestions for improvements come up. Finally, the workers should be aware of how to implement kaizen, and take an active part in the various facilities to provide suggestions. [...]
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