CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT OR MIZEN: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Kaizen in Japan means ongoing improvement which involves everyone in the organisation. Kaizen affects all layers of management and workers. Kaizen is process-oriented rather than individual task oriented. This is different from the West where most emphasis is placed on individual performances and rewards according to results with disregard for the process and its capability.
Kaizen versus innovation: Japanese versus Western approach to continuous improvement
Total Quality Management seems to be the ideal opportunity for organisations to tackle the various obstacles to implementing continuous improvement based on a blend of Kaizen and innovation. It must be recognized that the following elements are essential if any continuous improvement initiative is to succeed:
1 Continuous improvement is a customer-driven effort. Targets can only be set and determined by customer requirements;
2 The use of knowledge work is required. Any continuous improvement initiative will depend on people’s skills, knowledge, expertise and creative output;
3Continuous improvements are about inter-functional problem-solving activity and team work. Shared goals and objectives are the key to successful continuous improvement programmes;
4 Continuous improvement is about driving out fear and making problems an opportunity for improvement;
5 Continuous improvement focuses on the whole process (means and the ends) rather than the results only;
6 Improvement is about slow and gradual steps rather than single shots or big leaps. It is about the long term health of the business rather than the short term profitability;
7 Continuous improvement requires positive management systems which create a positive climate for improvement and supportive management teams;
8Management systems include the use of tools and techniques to understand processes, measure existing performance, identify problems and implement the solutions;
9 Continuous improvement has to be based on Deming’s PDCA cycle.