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Kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese word that loosely translates to ‘change for the good.’ So, kaizen simply means to make improvements to a process.

Forms of kaizen

  • A week-long kaizen event.

Also known as kaizen blitz, rapid improvement process, or continuous improvement workshop. This is what people traditionally think of when they hear the term kaizen. These events use a lot of resources and tend to yield big gains.

  • Daily improvement kaizen.

This form of kaizen is the ‘do it now’ approach to using kaizen to make improvements. These are the ‘quick fix’ tasks that usually don’t take very long to complete.

They are a critical part of a continuous improvement culture.

These small incremental gains, especially if they are made on an ongoing basis by frontline employees and managers, are effective tools that add to the bottom line.

  • Kaizen projects.

This form of kaizen uses traditional project management to keep process improvement efforts moving forward.

Kaizen can be thought of as the transmission of Lean. The tools and system provide the power—the engine, but kaizen takes that potential and transfers it into actual gains at gemba—the place where the real work happens.

Kaizen process

Kaizen makes use of the Deming PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) to improve processes.

A large part kaizen gains come from observing a process and identifying waste (Plan).

 

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