Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning slow , never ending improvement in all aspects of life . It represents Japanese approach to improvement and can be interpreted as continuous improvement by anyone in all areas . Kaizen differs from classical western approach to improve mainly in that it relies on investment in people , not equipment or systems . Innovation has been the classical western approach to improvement .
Large sums have been spent on new equipment and systems using the latest technology and requiring specialist involvement to give large step changes in performance . This has led to dramatic improvements but they have not been standardised and maintained , resulting in a fall in performance over a period of time .
Kaizen is a continuous series of small step improvement made on existing equipment or the system by the people who actually work in that area . It is based on existing techniques and technology without the need for huge spending . An important aspect of Kaizen is the standardization and maintenance of improvements . Kaizen is most effective when used in combination with the innovative type improvements .
Yet even the continuous nature of Kaizen is eventually not sufficient on its own . The time may come when an innovative step is required , but this must be supported by a Kaizen approach .
- discarding conventional and rigid ideas about doing the work .
- thinking about how to do ? rather than ‘ why it can not be done ? ‘ .
- questioning the present ways of doing .
- introducing improvements immediately even in small proportion and
- correcting the old wrong habits .
Approach to Kaizen
- Define the area of improvement .
- Analyse and select appropriate problem .
- Identify the causes
- Plan counter measures
- Confirm the result and
- Standardize it .
The Japanese and American Companies have taken full advantage of Kaizen unlike Indian Companies . In the borderless economy , Indian firms have no choice but to welcome Kaizen . A handful of companies in India have gone in for Kaizen and encashed on it . These are Mahindra and Mahindra , Dabur , Marico Industries , Larsen and Tuburo , Otis and the like .