Kaizen process improvement method: description and its 5 principles

The Kaizen process improvement method improves process management and allows you to effectively evaluate your organization’s talent. Based on a...
28 May 2024

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Kaizen process improvement method: description and its 5 principles

The Kaizen process improvement method improves process management and allows you to effectively evaluate your organization’s talent.

Based on a Japanese methodology, this method is developed around 5 basic principles, including knowing your customers and empowering your teams. 

The result is a company that is more competitive, in constant evolution and that makes better use of the material and human resources at its disposal. 

We want you to know exactly what the Kaizen methodology consists of, so we have prepared this article in which we will also explain its 5 principles in detail.  

Kaizen process improvement method: description and principles

What is the Kaizen process improvement methodology?

The Kaizen process improvement method is a work philosophy of Japanese origin that takes the form of an analytical method focused on efficient production thanks to the continuous improvement of processes through small objective changes. 

If you are wondering who created Kaizen, the origin is the production optimization methodology developed at Toyota by Taiichi Ohno. However, the person responsible for popularizing it in the West was Masaaki Imai, who founded the Kaizen Institute Consulting Group in 1985 to advise companies.

This dynamic is part of productivity quality management and consists of introducing small changes with the intention of eliminating time wasted on superfluous issues. 

These small changes can improve the delivery time of a project or the execution of a task, standardize work, control the quality of a product, improve the efficiency of equipment, etc.

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Gradually, this procedure ends up modifying the protocols and achieving significant results, as long as it is maintained over time, i.e. it is an evolving and continuous system. 

To maintain this philosophy of continuous improvement, it is important to remember that perfection is never achieved, so each process can be improved. 

Likewise, the Japanese kaizen method can be applied to people by fostering a culture of continuous learning to improve the skills, competencies and knowledge of your teams while empowering them.

It is also an effective way to manage talent, as it encourages the participation of specialists in each area of action, since they are the ones who know the problem best.  

The kaizen method corresponds to the so-called PDCA cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act), which is extremely practical and uses tools such as the 5 Whys. 

The 5 Whys of Kaizen method

The 5 Whys of kaizen involves digging deeper into a problem by asking repeated questions about the causes until you get to the root of the problem. 

For example, if a machine is breaking down, the first step is to ask why this is happening. The answer or answers generated must be based on facts, not hypotheses. 

Each person involved is confronted with the question of why, and the answer is subject to objective and systematic analysis.

This dynamic, developed by the founder of Toyota, Sakichi Toyoda, corresponds to the principles of the Lean methodology, a strategy focused on the continuous improvement of industrial, business and training processes, based on the following steps: 

  1. Define the problem. 
  2. Set the goal. 
  3. Analyze the root cause, which can be of 3 types: logical, one variable at a time (known as OVAT) or multivariable (MVAT). 
  4. Define countermeasures for the problem. 
  5. Develop a set of rules and control elements.

The 5 principles of the Kaizen Method

If you want to implement the Kaizen process improvement methodology, you need to know the 5 principles on which it is based, which will allow you to: 

  • Eliminate everything considered waste. 
  • Implement efficient internal management. 
  • Standardize processes.  
  • Consolidate a solid and motivating corporate culture.
The Kaizen method is a work philosophy of Japanese origin.

Know your customer

Knowing your customer is essential in any activity, whether we are talking about users of a service or consumers of a product. 

Only then you will be able to respond to their needs and offer them added value or improve their experience. 

Let it flow

This principle states that each participant in a process must get rid of waste, of anything that is a sterile blockage, in order to contribute to the value chain. 

The secret is to question current practices and to think small, that is, to build a big improvement based on the small changes that each person or small groups of people can make at their level of action. 

Go to the Gemba, the real or true place

Gemba comes from the Japanese and means true place, the place where the action necessary to create a product or service takes place. 

For example, in the case of a music band, the Gemba is the recording studio, in a video game company, the Gemba is where the developers are located. 

This is the only way to analyze the work correctly and in a real way. 

The 5 principles of the Kaizen Method

Empowering people

For the kaizen process improvement method to work, all members of your teams must embrace the methodology. The type of leadership you have in your organization is critical to this necessary step.

All actions, orders and systems must be focused on continuous improvement to achieve the company’s goals. To do this, leaders must be able to instill this philosophy in people.

Be transparent and use real data 

Finally, the kaizen method can only work if you use real data, as we have advanced, there is no room for assumptions, which must also be measurable in order to find the most effective solutions. 

At Smowltech we understand the need to analyze processes in a truthful way and that is why we offer performance reports of your online supervisors in our proctoring plans. Request a free demo so we can explain each of the customized solutions we can offer you to improve your training and assessment processes.

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