An overview of Kaizen principles that can be applied in an organization

Kaizen in Japanese means ’improvement’ or ’change for the better. This philosophy focuses upon continuous improvements (step by step) of processes in manufacturing, engineering, supporting business processes and management from top to bottom. Kaizen refers to activities that continually improve all functions and involves employees from the CEO to the Assembly line workers.

Elements of KAIZEN:

  • Work discipline
  • TPM
  • Kanban
  • Quality circles
  • Quality improvement
  • JIT
  • Zero defects
  • Small group improvement
  • Productivity improvement
  • Customer orientation
  • Total Quality Control/ Statistical Process Control SPC principles etc

“If you learn only one word of Japanese, make it KAIZEN.” –Masaaki Imai-

Objectives of KAIZEN principles( QUALITY-RIGHT FROM THE START!)

  • Cost reduction, quality increase and shortening of throughput time by eliminating non-value-adding activities e.t.c
  • Conscious and self-dependent avoidance of wastage (time, material)
  • There is unused potential in every working procedure, which has to be on every level. 
  • Standardisation of work procedures after proposals of involved employees identification and observing of agreed standards.
  • Independent recognition and elimination of weaknesses etc

Benefits of KAZEN principles:

  • Widely applicable
  • Teaches workers how to solve everyday problems themselves
  • Faster delivery, lower costs, greater customer satisfaction
  • Highly effective, transparent and result-oriented
  • Team-based cross-functional, data-driven
  • Optimizing of the work environment and production facilities
  • Reduce waste (inventory, time, motion, transportation etc)
  • Continual small improvements add up to major benefits
  • Redevelopment of the communication with other departments
  • Increase employees morale, job satisfaction, sense of responsibility
  • Improve productivity, quality, use of capital, space utilization etc

Five requirements for a successful implementation of KAIZEN principles in the organization:

  • 5S (Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke) is an instrument to develop safe, clean and useful workplace
  • 8W is a checklist to identify typical types of waste (e.g Japanese ’Muda’)
  • 5WHY is a method of quality management to define causes and effects
  • VALUE STREAM is a method to improve processes in the production and service sector
  • PDCA is an interactive process of solving problems with origins in quality management etc


  • CUSTOMER ORIENTATION: A group of actions taken by a business to support its sales and service staff in considering client needs and satisfaction their major priorities.
  • TOTAL QUALITY CONTROL: Application of quality management principles to all areas of business from design to delivery instead of confining them to
  • ROBOTICS: Is the interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electrical engineering e.t.c.Robotics deals with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing.
  • QUALITY CONTROL CIRCLES: is a small group of workers who come together to discuss ways of identifying, analyzing, solving, and selecting work-related issues.
  • SUGGESTION SYSTEM: A staff suggestion system is a formalized mechanism which encourages employees to contribute constructive ideas for improving the organization in which they work.
  • AUTOMATION: is the use of various control systems for operating equipment such as machinery, processes in factories, etc and other and vehicles with minimal or reduced human intervention.
  • WORK DISCIPLINE: Discipline in the workplace is the means by which supervisory personnel correct behavioural deficiencies and ensure adherence to established company rules. The purpose of discipline is correct behaviour.
  • TPM: is a system of maintaining and improving the integrity of production and quality systems through the machines, equipment, processes, and employees that add business value to an organization.
  • KANBAN: is a method for managing knowledge work which balances demands for work with the available capacity for new work
  • QUALITY IMPROVEMENT: The systematic approach to reduction or elimination of waste, rework, and losses in the production process.
  • JUST-IN-TIME (JIT): is an inventory strategy companies employ to increase efficiency and decrease waste by receiving goods only as they are needed in the production process, thereby reducing inventory cost
  • ZERO DEFECTS is a management tool aimed at the reduction of defects through prevention. It is directed at motivating people to prevent mistakes by developing a constant, conscious desire to do their job right the first time
  • SMALL GROUP ACTIVITIES: Brainstorming is designed to stimulate creative thinking. Brainstorms are governed by four rules – no criticism, ‘free-wheeling’ welcomed, quantity is important, development of ideas is merited. The starting point should be to encourage all participants to think aloud – with all ideas being recorded on the flip chart/post-it notes
  • PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENT: Productivity improvement strategies can then be put in place to increase efficiency as well as production output. Benefits from productivity improvement include a decrease in overall cost combined with an increase in revenue
  • NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT:  is the complete process of bringing a new product to market. New product development is described in the literature as the transformation of a market opportunity into a product available for sale and it can be tangible (that is, something physical you can touch) or intangible (like a service, experience, or belief).

Thank you

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