The Kaizen Approach

Kaizen is the name given by the Japanese to the concept of continual incremental improvement. Kai means “change” and zen means “good.” Kaizen, therefore, means making changes for the better on a continual, never-ending basis. The improvement aspect of Kaizen refers to people, pro­cesses, and products.

If the Kaizen philosophy is in place, all aspects of an organization should be improving all the time. People, processes, management practices, and products should im­prove continually: “good enough” is never good enough. In his landmark book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success, Masaaki Imai gives an overview of the concept that is summarized in the following paragraphs:18

  • Kaizen value system. The underlying value system of Kaizen can be summarized as continual improvement of all things, at all levels, all the time, forever. All of the strat­egies for achieving this fall under the Kaizen umbrella (see Figure 19.3). Executive managers, middle manag­ers, supervisors, and line employees all play key roles in implementing Kaizen (see Figure 19.4).
  • Role of executive management. Executive managers are responsible for establishing Kaizen as the overriding corporate strategy and communicating this commitment to all levels of the organization; allocating the resources necessary for Kaizen to work; establishing appropriate policies; ensuring full deployment of Kaizen policies; and establishing systems, procedures, and structures that pro­mote Kaizen.
  • Role of middle managers. Middle managers are re­sponsible for implementing the Kaizen policies estab­lished by executive management; establishing, main­taining, and improving work standards; ensuring that employees receive the training necessary to understand and implement Kaizen; and ensuring that employees learn how to use all applicable problem-solving tools.
  • Role of supervisors. Supervisors are responsible for applying the Kaizen approach in their functional roles, developing plans for carrying out the Kaizen approach at the functional level, improving communication in the workplace, maintaining morale, providing coaching for teamwork activities, soliciting Kaizen suggestions from employees, and making Kaizen suggestions.
  • Role of employees. Employees are responsible for par­ticipating in Kaizen by taking part in teamwork activities, making Kaizen suggestions, engaging in continual self­improvement activities, continually enhancing job skills through education and training, and continually broad­ening job skills through cross-functional training.
  • Kaizen and quality. In a total quality setting, quality is defined by customers. Regardless of how customers define quality, it can always be improved and it should be, continually. Kaizen is a broad concept that promotes quality from the all-encompassing Big Q perspective.

1. Kaizen Implementation Tools

All of the tools explained in Chapter 15 are used in Kaizen, as are the tools explained elsewhere in this book. In ad­dition, several are specifically thought of as Kaizen im­plementation tools: Kaizen Checklists and the Kaizen Five-approach.

2. Kaizen Checklists

Kaizen is about continual improvement of people, pro­cesses, procedures, and any other factors that can affect quality. One of the best ways to identify problems that repre­sent opportunities for improvement is to use a checklist that focuses the attention of employees on those factors that are most likely in need of improvement. These factors include personnel, work techniques, work methods, work proce­dures, time, facilities, equipment, systems, software, tools, material, plant layout, production levels, inventory, and par­adigms (see Figure 19.4).

3. Kaizen Five-S Approach

The five-S approach will be at the heart of any continual im­provement initiative.19 Posters bearing the words seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke can often be found on the walls of Japanese plants. With some liberties taken in translation to English, the five-S became sort, store, shine, standardize, and sustain, respectively. (Five-S is discussed in more detail in Chapter 15, pages 266, 267.)

  • Step 1: Sort. This step involves separating the necessary from the unnecessary and getting rid of the unnecessary in such areas as tools, work in process, machinery, prod­ucts, papers, and documents.
  • Step 2: Store. This step involves putting such things as tools and material in their proper place and keeping things in order so that employees can always find what they need to do the job without wasting time looking.
  • Step 3: Shine. This step involves keeping the workplace clean so that work can proceed in an efficient manner, free of the problems that can result when the work site is messy.
  • Step 4: Standardize. This step was originally aimed at standardizing how the first three of the Five-S’s were implemented and maintained, but since then expanded to include standardizing on best practices. Visual man­agement is also a major component of standardization.
  • Step 5: Sustain. This step involves careful adherence to standardized work procedures. This requires discipline.

4. Five W’s and One H

The Five W’s and One H are not just Kaizen tools. They are widely used as management tools in a variety of set­tings. The Five W’s and One H (see Figure 19.5) are Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Using them encour­ages employees to look at a process and ask such questions as the following: Who is doing it? Who should be doing it? What is being done? What should be done? Where is it being done? Where should it be done? When is it being done? When should it be done? Why is it being done? Why do it that way? How is it being done? How should it be done?

5. Five-M Checklist

The Five-M checklist is a tool that focuses attention on five key factors involved in any process.20 The Five M’s are man (operator), machine, material, methods, and measurement (see Figure 19.6). In any process, improvements can be made by examining these aspects of the process.

Source: Goetsch David L., Davis Stanley B. (2016), Quality Management for organizational excellence introduction to total Quality, Pearson; 8th edition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *