Kaizen comes from the words, "Renew the heart and make it good." Therefore, adaptation of the Kaizen concept also requires changes in "the heart of the business", corporate culture and structure, since Kaizen enables companies to translate the corporate vision in every aspect of a company's operational practice.
The name 'Kaizen' is actually an adaptation of the Japanese term that stands for continuous improvement. In this methodology of business process improvement, it is believed the employees need to be empowered in order to enhance various processes of the company. It utilizes the Lean methodology in order to plan, implement and evaluable changes on a daily basis in a variety of roles.
The Lean methodology is known for getting rid of waste, which increases productivity. When Lean is applied to Kaizen, the end result is improved efficiency of the entire process. While this offers an explanation in simple terms, Kaizen is actually much more than what it sounds like. It also promotes change in a cultural aspect, by allowing and inspiring people to be interested and apply positive alterations to things that matter to them.
It has been found to be extremely effective in improving processes of businesses that are stagnant at poor or moderate levels. But this methodology can also be applied to processes that have already seen success, since many of the techniques, tools and philosophies used in Kaizen are ideal for all types of process superiority. Also known as an “instant revolution”, Kaizen is a quick methodology that can be applied in a much shorter time frame than other processes. One of the more desirable aspects of Kaizen methodology is that it is an engaging, entertaining, stimulating and addictive approach.
There are a few ways that Kaizen methodology can be applied. These include: specific problems, strategic deployment and total immersion. Kaizen can be applied to specific problems directly in order to bring about change. It can also be used in a strategic way to resolve issues in a business. An entire business can also implement Kaizen methodology via “total immersion.”
In both strategic deployment and total immersion, Kaizen provides an understanding that is learned through action. This is often done through training and coaching that makes sure the desired results are reached. Once this training has been provided, it is possible for individuals to have the know-how in terms of applying these methods to other issues. The unique aspect of Kaizen is that it can be implemented on its own or added to pre-existing programs. Kaizen can easily be added to programs that are already in effect, through coaching, training and community infrastructure.
About the author:
Shruti Bhat PhD MBA Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt is Pharmaceutical R&D and Continuous Improvement Director, Innoworks Canada
Shruti leads path-breaking product development programs such as Complex Generics, Nanotechnology and Targeted delivery systems for pharmaceuticals and natural products. Her mantra is to "Shorten development timelines, build quality-by-design, lean processes and bring products fast- to- market". Shruti integrates her proficiency in Design Thinking, Lean, Kaizen and other Continuous Improvement methodologies to improve R&D processes, productivity and profitability.
Shruti is Product Development & Continuous Improvement Advisor to several start ups, mid-size and growing firms in Canada, USA, India, Africa and other Emerging markets. Shruti has authored six books and is an invited speaker at several conferences and workshops.
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