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Making things better with Kaizen

Many have heard the term Kaizen, but do not know what it means. Kaizen is "Japanese for improvement or change for the better." What does this mean exactly? When you use Kaizen it means that you are looking for ways in which you can provide higher quality products to your customers but also that you are seeking ways to make the entire company run efficiently and effectively. Using a series of tools you will be able to observe where the issues are within your company and to completely eliminate them from occurring in the future.

Kaizen is one of the easiest ways to empower your employees. You will divide them into small groups and provide each group with a task to perform. They will all look for errors and issues and will seek out solutions that can be used to improve the company. You want the employees to be able to really look at the manufacturing line and to look for errors with the equipment or with the design of your production line flow. Many companies need to go all the way back to the drawing board to fix the issues.

Kaizen is one of the methods that you often see with the Toyota Production System. It is quite effective at assisting to find the abnormalities. As Kaizen is initially started you may see small improvements or you could see larger improvements. Like any new system, it will take time for it to work effectively and for you to become a "believer". Do not give up on the system, spend time on it and you will start to see productivity improvement. This is a program that you need to use each day, not just once and awhile.

To change the Kaizen mindset you need to have the employees trained in it. People that are trained in it right away know what is expected and they know what to do right away. There is a cycle that Kaizen will end up following to provide you with the improvements. The Kaizen cycle goes as follows:
- Standardization of your manufacturing line operation and activities
- Performance measure of your operation line
- Setting goals for the measurements
- Meeting customer and company expectations for product improvement and productivity improvement
- Standardization
- Continuing the new cycle

What makes Kaizen work so effectively is the way it is able to focus on networking. When you have a team of employees that work together and all of the different departments work together, you are less likely to have issues in the company. People know how to communicate and to use strategies that work well for everyone. When you have a strategy planning meeting each team will have their plans and each team will come with concerns and suggestions for improvement. Perform a cost analysis of the various ideas that the teams come up with. This will aid in helping you to maintain the control and to have the best programs to use to make a difference.

For Kaizen to work your management team must set the example. They all need to be able to believe in how it works and to train the lower level managers so they can implement it. It's a continuous process improvement system and like anything, it takes time for it to catch on. You need to have each person in the company involved and to change their mindset for it to be able to work effectively and to give you the best benefit possible. If you want to remain competitive in your industry, you need to turn to a program like Kaizen as it really can make the difference you need to stay ahead of the game.

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