Strategic Human Resource Management

What is Kaizen ?

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 .

Kaizen demands

  1. discarding conventional and rigid ideas about doing the work .
  2. thinking about how to do ? rather than ‘ why it can not be done ? ‘ .
  3. questioning the present ways of doing .
  4. introducing improvements immediately even in small proportion and
  5. correcting the old wrong habits .

Approach to Kaizen

  1. Define the area of improvement .
  2. Analyse and select appropriate problem .
  3. Identify the causes
  4. Plan counter measures
  5. Implement
  6. Confirm the result and
  7. 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 .

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