Understanding the principles of Kaizen

To optimize your organization's performance, you have two choices: apply radical change or make incremental improvements... In this second alternative, the Kaizen principles will be very useful. How to take advantage of it?

What is Kaizen?

Born in the Japanese manufacturing industry, Kaizen is at the heart of Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma dear to Toyota. Its objective is the continuous improvement of processes and activities, targeting the elimination of waste, the reduction of risks, the improvement of workstations and more globally, the optimization of productivity.

Contrary to the search for disruptive innovations and reengineering, the philosophy is based on the idea that small, rapid and regular changes can have a strong impact. Simple in principle, the implementation is sometimes complicated.

Although initially used in industry, the principles of Kaizen can be implemented in other sectors such as services, trade or even for your own personal efficiency.

Benefits of this approach

In addition to improving overall performance, this approach also affects

employee satisfaction : by taking into account their actions in improving their working conditions and optimizing their efficiency.

customer satisfaction and loyalty : with better quality products and services.

Optimization of processes and tasks : faster, more efficient.

Reduction of deadlines : thanks to a more efficient organization.

Improved teamwork and coordination between departments : through the habit of working together.

This means improving the company's competitiveness and profitability : higher quality products at lower cost.

Kaizen principles

It is common to talk about the 14 rules of Kaizen (see our article of June 03, 2021). However, it is much more a state of mind based on simple principles:

proactivity in solving problems : don't wait for them to appear, anticipate and act are the key words.

Questioning current practices : not being satisfied with solutions that work, seeking to constantly improve work methods and procedures.

Involving team members so that they become actors in the resolution of problems.

the search for solutions at the lowest cost : in the Kaizen philosophy, the revolution is achieved through small, financially painless adjustments. There is no question of throwing everything away and starting over.

the search for the root cause of a problem : don't limit yourself to appearances, dig into the understanding of the "root cause" to act where needed.

collaborative decision making : it is better to ask for the opinion of several people to compare points of view and enrich the analysis by different angles rather than deciding alone in one's corner.

correcting dysfunctions or errors as soon as they appear. Do not let things settle. This is in line with the principle of proactivity.

Once again, Kaizen is not really a method, but more a state of mind based on principles. However, there are a certain number of tools, which we will develop in future articles, to follow this approach.