Kaizen: Continuous Business Improvement

4 Min Read
Kaizen: Continuous Business Improvement

Kaizen is a systematic approach to continuous business improvement. Believing that everything can be improved however small the changes these all add up to improved business processes.

Kaizen originated in Japan and translated the word means change for the good, kai “change” and Zen “for the good”. More a philosophy than a specific tool for continuous, incremental improvements in processes.

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Kaizen Process Improvement

Every process can be improved and you’re probably doing this every week without even realising it’s happening not calling it “change” or even realising it is “continuous improvement“. There is always room for small business improvements nothing should be set in stone.

This subtle change approach is often undervalued, challenging yourself and colleagues to continuously fine-tune processes and best practices on a daily or weekly basis can see great rewards.

Large big changes all at once can be challenging to implement and frustrating for everyone to change the way they work but small changes can be easier to deal with. Only changing processes occasionally will allow for a gradual decline, inefficiencies to develop and bad practices to creep back in.

Subtle incremental changes over time add up to huge substantial changes in the long term, without the pain and challenges of one-off huge radical ones. Making it an employee-friendly and a gentler approach for changes that must occur for business growth.

Kaizen in Business

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explains about he used Kaizen to reduce and eliminate waste from Amazon supply chain processes.


Identifying Gaps and Inefficiencies

Unlike other methods of process improvement, this puts an emphasis on that everyone in the company has responsibility for identifying problems, gaps. inefficiencies and reduce waste.

Every level of employees from managers to the cleaners is encouraged to suggest where improvement can be made.

Every person counts and should have a direct impact on the best way things can be done. This powerful team approach gives you a way to harness suggestions from people at every level.

Kaizen Improves productivity

Kaizen aims to increase productivity, effectiveness, and reduce waste like all six sigma, lean methodologies like the 8 wastes of lean. Think about using a PDCA cycle, as a useful tool to help the process.

Kaizen works very well will Gemba and the Gemba Walk

Working together to solve problems can be a great way to help team building and understanding each employee’s skills and strengths.

The financial aspect can mean increased profits once inefficiencies are addressed it can contribute to lower costs and better productivity.

Reducing Waste in Business

Reducing waste is a key term in Kaizen where they use another Japanese term Muda which means waste.

Decreasing waste is a key element in Kaizen because by eliminating waste, you can improve quality, become far more efficient, and have less time wasted. In business, these all equate to money savings which in turn means potential for more profit.

Muda in Kaizen Can Mean Many Things

Spend time identifying where there is “waste” in the way your business works.

Here at Checkify, these are key wastes we are addressing within a business.

Time: Waiting around for answers and searching for documents in your email or filing system.

Errors: Process failed or steps missed due to not having the relevant knowledge or documented tasks or new and not been trained.

Workflow: Not completing tasks in the right order in the right priority.

“Mental” Waste: Switching from one job to another before completion.

Prioritising Tasks: Knowing where to start and what is most important.

Over- Processing: Doing more than is necessary for a process.

Kaizen History

Masaaki Imai 1986 introduced the Japanese term Kaizen to the World in his book, Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success.

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Productivity Lean / Six Sigma

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