Kaizen Lean is the Japanese equivalent of continuous improvement. It literally means “change for better”. Kaizen is one of the many principles of the Toyota Production System (TPS). TPS has formed the basis for Lean Management. Kaizen and Hansei are two words that you will often hear together. Hansei represents the principle of “mistakes are fine, as long as you learn from them”. After all, you cannot improve if you are not allowed to find out whether something works better or actually does not work at all.
Where does Kaizen Lean come from?
Kaizen Lean is often considered a bundle of tools that can be applied. However, the origins of Lean at Toyota demonstrate that there is much more to it. Innovation has always been Toyota’s strength. And in order to innovate, employees have to be allowed to learn. Learning from mistakes ensures that situations are approached differently the next time. And if you subsequently have an organisation in which the lessons learnt are shared and adopted by other employees, you can constantly improve. Kaizen is this continuous improvement as a series of small steps. When making improvements, it is important to determine the root cause of a problem. This is done with the help of the 5 X WHY? principle. This is a very simple principle: by constantly asking the “why question”, you determine the root cause of a problem.
How do you apply Kaizen to your own organisation?
What exactly can you do with Kaizen Lean in your organisation? A good example of an application is the Kaizen workshop. Before this workshop, a process to be improved is selected. The following steps are taken during the Kaizen workshop:
- Determine who the customer is in this process (internal & external)
- Chart the current process by – amongst others – physically keeping track of the process
- Use creative working methods (e.g. four-blockers) in order to devise solutions for the new operational process
- Create an implementation approach in subgroups
- Perform a Plan-Do-Check-Act on unfinished implementation actions
Lean Six Sigma Group and Kaizen
To date, Lean Six Sigma Group has presented a large number of Kaizen workshops. Please contact us now for more information about our approach.