Definition Kaizen, It’s a process that is part of the bigger lean methodology. Basically, it’s just one of its popular applications. Kaizen is applied with the aim of continuous improvement. It aims to provide this framework or process on how to achieve positive improvements. Kaizen is actually a combination of two Japanese words. The word “kai” stands for change and the word “zen” stands for good. Based on that, you should be able to get a general idea about how kaizen works.
Just to give you a bit of historical background, kaizen was developed by a car manufacturing company called TOYOTA. Their aim was to improve their process by eliminating waste, otherwise known as the bottleneck effect. In case you didn’t know, the bottleneck effect refers to an occurrence in production, where there is a certain part of it that slows down everything. As you know a production concept is like this process of passing one product to the other. Each pass completes a specific task (assembly line) and passes it to the other once their task is done. This is done over and over again. The pass needs to be efficient and if there are problems, there will be a delay in the pass from one person to the other or one department to the other. as a result, it slows down productivity, quality, and process.
Can kaizen be applied outside the manufacturing process? Kaizen is originally applied in manufacturing and it was born there, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be applied in other industries as well. There have been many people that applied lean specifically kaizen in their workflow for problem-solving and even in their way of life, along with Six Sigma. This is because kaizen provides a process, a mindset and an application as to how you can apply it.
Will it make the process perfect? The reality is that there’s no such thing as a perfect process. All process is designed with flaws and it can be because of many factors (the factors that you can control and the factors that you can’t). But what you can do is make it better all the time by altering the things that you can control. Keep in mind that times will change, needs will change and kaizen can help you in how you can adapt to that change positively.
If you have been in the manufacturing industry or any industry, you might have already crossed paths with the word “kaizen” and that comes as no surprise because Kaizen is a process that has been adopted by various companies in various industries over the years with the aim for continuous improvement. Although the concept is more than a decade old, it doesn’t mean that it’s not good, in fact, its the opposite.