The word kaizen comes from two Japanese words, “kai” meaning change and the word “zen” meaning to see or gain wisdom. The meaning of kaizen is: change for the better or continuous improvement. The goal of kaizen is to eliminate harmful activities in the flow of value. Kaizen is usually identified with the advancement of production, but it can be applied to sales and service, even to an individual's personal life. The point of kaizen is to strive for continuous improvement of business (or life) so that it becomes an integral part of business.
What is the main obstacle to the implementation of kaizen, for example in my country (Serbia)? It is the understanding that what we do, do perfectly, and that it does not need to be improved and improved. Such thinking is the result of the expressed vanity in our business (and other) circles. That we all know and do our best and that there is no need for better. The consequence of this thinking is that we are very little in need of external consultants because it is believed that we can do everything ourselves. The result is that our economy is closed and therefore not competitive or efficient. If the essence of LEAN and KAIZEN is to produce more (cost, customer, value) with less (cost, resources, manpower), then more (less than global competition) is produced in our country.
Kaizen in action
Kaizen requires the involvement of everyone from the CEO to the cleaner. Only the roles and responsibilities of individuals differ.
• Senior management is responsible for defining the organization of kaizen, setting goals, and creating a culture that is stimulating for the development of kaizen. The director (s) are also responsible for financially supporting the implementation of kaizen. I know I don't have to tell you this, that you know it yourself, but without the 100% support of the highest management set, kaizen (like any change) is doomed.
• Middle management is tasked with providing logistical support, necessary materials as well as the necessary knowledge and skills to carry out kaizen. They run specific improvement projects within their remit. They are also responsible for the concrete implementation of kaizen.
• Supervisors or leaders of individual working groups (teams) ensure that kaizen is implemented at the level of individuals as well as groups or teams. Their task is to ensure the safe implementation of kaizen, that it be implemented in accordance with standard operating procedures of the business. This is important because kaizen does not mean change at all costs, but just change for the better. A change that results in increased performance.
Kaizen is focused on eliminating harmful activities in the course of the value of your business. As you analyze the flow of values in small steps, you will notice harmful and non-useful activities that you would not normally notice. You will look for damage in the following areas:
• Transportation - Is something moving unnecessarily?
• Waiting - Is there anything you need to wait for?
• Pre-production - Is more production required than needed?
• Errors - Are process errors happening?
• Inventory - Do you have excess inventory?
• Movement - How much movement, material, goods, equipment do you have?
• Excess processing - Is more work consumed than needed?
• Non-utilization of people - Do employees give their maximum?