Kaizen forms an umbrella that covers many techniques including Kanban,
total productive maintenance, six sigma, automation, just in time,
suggestion system and productivity improvement, etc.
Principles of kaizen management
The principles of Kaizen that must be understand are:
People are the most important asset. Teamwork provides results and gives
everyone a feeling of accomplishment. A dozen heads are better than
Everyone must be open to change and improvements. Ideas from
workers, management, suppliers, and customers can lead to new, better
and easier ways of doing things.
Gradual changes are easier to accept than complete overhauls and
employees are more likely to accept gradual change. Small changes will
demonstrate how a tiny improvement can provide real results.
Old ways of doing things may be comfortable, but not very efficient.
Everyone in a company has to accept Change is Good and necessary for
Making excuses is unacceptable if it is We have always done it this way
and don’t see why we have to change now. Keeping the old ways may
result in a company not being able to survive the competition.
If the job is right the first time, waste will be reduced. Waste accounts for
as much as 35% or higher of manufactured product. By eliminating waste,
7. Correct process errors immediately or they become larger. Equipment
breakdowns and failures are a result of letting a minor problem become a
Kaizen process can be divided into three segments depending upon complexity
1-Management oriented-Concentrate on logistic and strategic issues and
provides momentum to keep up progress and morale.
2-Group oriented kaizen-it is a permanent approach and is represented by QC
circles and SGAs that uses various statistical tools for problem solving. It calls for
full PDCA cycle and identifying problems and causes.
3-Individual oriented Kaizen-It is achieved in form of suggestion system.
What are the 7 Wastes?
These wastes are...
1. Defects: - Quality defects originate rework, scrap and lost raw materials.
If these defects go all the way to the customer, the loss will be even
greater. To avoid this, we move from the traditional and obsolete “Quality
Control” still in use in some facilities, to the innovative “Quality at the
Source” (Jidoka) concept. Here, each member of the organization is
empowered and will make sure that no faulty products leave or arrive at
their work-stations. This is supported with ingenious “Mistake Proofing”
2. Waiting: - Caused mainly by low reliability and/or availability of the
equipment, lack of stock or poor scheduling. Here we have several tools,
strategies and disciplines that will prevent this type of loss. Analyzing
your process, we will be able to propose cost-effective improvements,
from simple relocations or re- mapping to TPM and other
3. Processing: - Over-processing takes place everywhere. Think of those
steps that do not add any real value. Processes that can be inaccurate
and/or incorrect. We can team up with your manufac- turing force and
find the appropriate actions that will start saving you time, materials,
space and money.
4. Production: - Over-production is just as bad as under- production.
Production may also be too early or too late. Make sure production is
performed at the right time in the right quantity. Lean Manufacturing
establishes a one-piece flow environment where production obeys the
market. We help drastically reduce this disagreement between supply and
5. Motion: - There are many cases of people required to perform
unnecessary motion, or awkward movements, or where motion is not
efficient (not adding value to the product). One of our customers saw in
just a few hours, the reduction from 42 miles of motion of 24 people in
three shifts to less than 2 miles of motion with 16 people in two shifts. Our
mission is to use the same resources to produce more.
6. Inventory: - Having too much raw material, WIP (work in process),
finished goods because of large lots is sometimes overlooked and is a
financial loss. SMED (Quick-Setup Strategy) implementations assist
manufacturers to reduce lot sizes. Cellular organization or re-organization
cuts WIP drastically. JIT deliveries provide instant solutions to the
“conventional warehouse” problems. We are ready to help!
7. Transportation: - A defective or poor layout of the plant, an ineffective
material handling system, an inconvenient location, all cause too much
transportation which adds cost and risk to the operation. A value stream
mapping will give you a cutting edge to reduce some of that overlooked
unnecessary transportation. We are prepared to introduce these
improvements and help many companies achieve their goals.
The Japanese concept of kaizen, or continuous improvement, has been long
lauded as a success. However, there have been charges levied against kaizen that
it is simply a passing management fad, popular one day but out the next. Such
an attitude is a truism: if a company treats it as a fad then it will be a fad. Here
are six reasons why organizations fail when implementing kaizen.
PROBLEMS IN KAIZEN IMPLEMENTATION
One of the reasons of kaizen failure is that a company is not fully committed to
making kaizen the cornerstone of their strategy. Kaizen isn’t simply a set of tools
for implementation: it is a long term mind-set in which every single employee is
committed to making things better.
1) Kaizen is seen as a short term project:-
The emphasis here is on long-term improvement. Although the concept of kaizen
is quite simple to understand, it is difficult to master and will need time before it
is fully understood by all employees. The main problem with implementation is
that often companies expect a quick turn around and visibility in KPIs within a
year, and when it doesn’t appear, write kaizen off as a failure.
In reality, benefits will start to be felt in the small scale, before slowly
propagating throughout the organization. When Toyota started producing cars,
it was seen as many goods made in China are treated today: undesirable and of
low quality. 40 years down the line, Toyota is considered the poster child for
A company needs to be married to kaizen for it to succeed, as it is very much a
long term relationship spanning the rest of their lives. Toyota has still not
perfected the car and they never will, as kaizen dictates that there’s always
something that could be done better or more efficiently.
2) Overemphasis on tying kaizen to KPIs
Kaizen can only succeed in places where there is a true desire to improve. While
it is important to tie kaizen to KPIs, over emphasis on it would ignore the fact
that improvements are often incremental, not revolutionary. Kaizen is like a
snowball rolling down a gently sloping hill – it gathers momentum and increases
in size as it comes down. The improvements gradually accumulate over time, as
processes are perfected and methodologies tweaked.
3) Implemented in a heavily bureaucratic organization
Lack of commitment is only one of several common reasons why kaizen
implementation fails. Kaizen will never succeed in an organization bogged down
by a bureaucratic mind-set, filled with rules and procedures with people who
would resist any sort of change. Another type is where change is punished and
blocked, whether formally or socially, decimating any incentive to improve.
Government organizations are often guilty of this, along with many Asian
companies where efficiency and financial indicators plays back burner to
4) Management pays lip service to kaizen
The failure of kaizen is also often seen in companies which implement kaizen in
wolf’s clothing. For example, a university I once came across implemented a
suggestion box which was rarely checked, and called it kaizen. No training was
given on how to analyse a problem to the root cause using 5-why analysis, nor
any of the other kaizen concepts such as PDCA or the use of mieruka (visual
controls) given. As a result none of the suggestions that came in were actually
considered, nor were they actionable or could fix the problems at hand.
Worse yet, on the odd chance they did check the box and found suggestions, the
top management simply ridiculed the suggestion, and would come up with
excuses why the status quo was superior to what was suggested in public. As a
result the feedback dried up as quickly as the paint on the box, and the project
5) Where training on kaizen isn’t provided
Kaizen will never work if people do not implement its full suite of tools and
concepts, with sufficient training given to take advantage of them. All the tools,
especially the 5-why analysis and the mindset that everything can be improved,
is an essential part
6) Where management does not support kaizen initiatives
The importance of support cannot be over emphasized: it is essential that
management isn’t just fully on board, but essential that they want to fully
embrace the long-term commitment of kaizen to the organization. They need to
pass on their enthusiasm and demonstrate that even they are continually looking
for new and better ways of doing things.
Kaizen is about everyone improving everything, not just a group doing all the
work. Kaizen is all about making things better in the long run, and improving
your profits and processes. It is a strategy that needs to be implemented now, for