LEAN | KAIZEN | SIX SIGMA  

building a productive business culture

Kaizen, Lean and Six Sigma are three business improvement methodologies origination in Japanese & American manufacturing industries of the 20th Century. While each have overlapping ideas, each was designed for different processes and refined further within each company. Before applying any of these methodologies business improvement methodologies and all three owe their origins to improvement initiatives in the Japanese and American manufacturing industries of the 20th Century. However, although all three have similarities, each should be understood before any are applied. When surveying the contemporary business improvement landscape, it can be difficult to choose which process improvement method (or methods) fit best for what you are trying to achieve. As there are many competing methodologies out there, I have included three of the most respected and popular (Six Sigma, Kaizen and Lean) improvement methodologies to share with you. 


Kaizen

Kaizen is Japanese for 'change for the better'. Rather than being a tool to use, Kaizen is all about mindset which is that 'everything can be changed and everything can be more efficient'. For you as a business owner building a Kaizen culture is something that can set you far apart from your competitors. 


Creating A Kaizen Culture In Your Business

Kaizen is Japanese for 'change for the better'. Rather than being a tool to use, Kaizen is all about mindset which is that 'everything can be changed and everything can be more efficient'. For you as a business owner building a Kaizen culture is something that can set you far apart from your competitors. Creating The Kaizen Culture In Your Business - Commitment MUST be throughout your organization, top to bottom. This is a huge part in what will drive and sustain Kaizen culture throughout your business. - Routine. When Kaizen was initially developed in manufacturing small teams wouls meet before work each week to talk about one tiny change they are going to try to implement in order to improve their process. Improvement is a constant as your competitors will likely be doing. The routine of revisiting this during your weekly meeting or one-to-ones with your staff is key to maintaining it. Tie it back to everyone’s job. Some people will almost certainly look at this as just one more new initiative that they simply need to outlive. To take it seriously, they may need to incentivized. Measure the results. (If it’s done right, these should be positive, and these are usually cumulative). Continuous improvement is metrics-driven. This means that terms like good, bad, and better become very objective. Continuous improvement works, but it takes time. It’s like saving money: at first, the benefits (e.g., interest) you earn is barely noticeable. But once you have enough, the interest income starts to add up. Before long, you are earning interest on your interest. Communicate. Unlike some initiatives, you may not have quick wins. It will probably take time, because continuous improvement is not instantly transformative. Keep everyone aware of what is going on while you are waiting for the results to speak for themselves. Be deliberate and patient. Creating a culture of continuous improvement is an exercise in demonstrating continuous improvement. You need serious commitment and sustained energy. Many of us make a practice to look for the quickest, highest value wins. Kaizen is more like the effect of oceans on the beach. It’s relentless and disciplined. It can take time to produce the results that many organizations want. A company with this kind of mindset may not be completely ready for kaizen. Also, keep this in mind: even if you have a healthy organization, it will likely be resistant to change. Repeat. These are baby steps, and this is the real heart of continuous improvement. Go over these steps again and again. This is continuous; you will never really be finished.


The strategy aims to collect knowledge from all employees within an organisation to accomplish incremental improvements on a regular basis. What matters is not only the individual, but rather the collective whose collated achievements will be greater. 


 Kaizen is based on a number of principles, namely: 


 Good processes bring good results Go see for yourself to grasp the current situation Speak with data, manage by facts Take action to contain and correct root causes of problems Work as a team Kaizen is everybody’s business One of the most prominent Japanese words associated with Kaizen is 'Muda'. 'Muda' means waste, and the Kaizen philosophy aims at cutting business waste through improving quality, increasing efficiency, reducing overproduction and unnecessary activities. Ultimately, this will result in saving both money and time. Kaizen's core philosophy implies that involving everyone in making decisions will facilitate innovation and improvement. In short, this continuous improvement strategy can be a very powerful support for any improvement project, for as long as the majority of employees are on board.  

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