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How to use the Kaizen approach

The kaizen approach is one of the key aspects of the Toyota Production System or TPS. You can implement the kaizen approach and expect to see results within 5 days; this is often called "mini kaizen." The kaizen approach focuses on reducing waste, increasing productivity, and having continual improvement. Kaizen is not only used in the manufacturing world, but the world in general. This Japanese word has helped many individuals with their personal and professional life struggles.

Kaizen entails improving all aspects of the business, from management to production. The goal of kaizen is to make small changes that will have a big impact on the company. It can be used at an individual level or as a team level. It requires tremendous effort from everyone at the company in order to become successful.

What truly makes kaizen unique from other lean manufacturing methods is its ability to slowly fix the problems instead of starting over from scratch. Many look at kaizen as a way to cut costs and increase productivity without hiring new employees. There are many ways you can implement kaizen within your company, here are a few:

  • Change the way your employees work. Take a look at their behaviors; do they repeat tasks that could be eliminated? Try changing the way they work to see if it will cut down on wasted time and materials.

  • Look for ways to make the workplace safer and more productive. Perhaps re-arranging the machinery or adding chairs can offer significant improvement for your staff members.

  • Create a new procedure for the way products are manufactured. Keep up-to-date with the changing industry; don't be left behind because you have old policies on how your company works. If possible, purchase newer equipment or make sure you are constantly maintaining the old equipment. Always look for ways to make adjustments to your current procedures so you can create a successful workplace.

Once you introduce kaizen to your company, everyone needs to be aware of the changes and they all need to be on-board. Kaizen is not just a one-time change; it is a daily activity that must be accepted by everyone. Kaizen not only improves the employees that work for the company, but the entire company.

Kaizen uses 5 main principles:

  • Quality improvement

  • Employee satisfaction

  • Teamwork

  • Discipline

  • Employee involvement

Each principle has a significant impact upon kaizen. With quality improvement, employees meet together to discuss the current operations of the company. They decide what things can be changed that will improve the quality of the company and of the products. Kaizen has become successful with many manufacturing companies because the employees are involved. They feel that their opinion is important and this boosts the employee morale. Keeping the employees happy will cause them to be more productive and satisfied with their jobs.

One of the biggest principles of the kaizen approach is the ability to work in teams. Each department is considered a team and they will be responsible for making small changes that impact the organization. The teams will then report to their manager. The manager takes this information to management and the entire process of kaizen is evaluated. In order for kaizen to be effective, discipline is necessary. Each employee must accept kaizen and work at it daily. A strong commitment to discipline and to the kaizen method will prove successful for your company.

The final principle of the kaizen approach is continual improvement. Even with the changes, there are still small things employees can do to change the way they work. There are simple things you can do to help your employees work faster and become more efficient. Each month, ask the employees for their opinion about kaizen and if they think it is working. Try to fix the small problems before they become larger problems that are more expensive to fix.

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