Kaizen impact

Very few people may know that the famous quality improvement technique ‘Kaizen’ actually evolved and contributed from work of Americans who helped rebuild Japan post world war!Word Kaizen in English typically means simply improvement and not necessarily continuous improvement. It refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small.

Kaizen is a daily activity, purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is also a process that, if done correctly, eliminates overly hard work and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work rationally and learn to spot and eliminate waste in business processes. It has tremendous impact on the efficiency of the organization and its people in short to long term. I personally have felt this in my stints working with some of the well known Japanese conglomerates in Japan and India. The very nature of Japanese people to work at smaller improvements on daily basis leads to great results.

The beauty of Kaizen is that people at all levels of an organization can participate in Kaizen, from the CEO down to external vendors e.g. Japanese Auto giants. Kaizen methodology includes making changes and monitoring results, then adjusting. The Toyota production system is known for kaizen & probably is most efficient production system in Automobile industry leading to most cost and quality competitive.

At the foundation of Kaizen rests elements such as Team work, Personal Discipline, Improved morale, Quality circles, Suggestions for improvement.5S framework which enables Kaizen success and helps in controlling wastes (Muda) and increases productivity includes, Seiri – tidiness,  Seiton – orderliness, Seiso – cleanliness, Seiketsu – standardized clean-up, Shitsuke – discipline.

While Kaizen being hugely successful in manufacturing and industrial firms, also has had some critics who claimed that even though it works perfectly fine at the low level improvements, it does not encourage high level of creativity. However a valid viewpoint, we must remember that biggest room in the world is room for improvement and it needs to be applied both at the top for creative ideas for quantum results and Kaizen like techniques at the bottom level for the real desired impact!

Shyam Verma, PMP, ITIL
Program & portfolio mgnt professional
LinkedIn:spverma. Twitter:Shammy11

Who needs Lean Six Sigma?

There was a time when only big and large corporations could take advantage of production and process improvement methodologies e.g.Six Sigma. Initially Six Sigma was recommended only for firms larger than $1Bn. But now with Lean Six Sigma it is possible for mid size firms also be benefited. In fact Lean six sigma is better for them as it can provide a powerful combination of the Lean manufacturing approach and Six Sigma. The two concepts are not too different in their applications and goals. Lean Six Sigma works on the philosophy of increasing speed by focusing on waste reduction.The result of Lean applications is shown in the improvement of quality and on reduced processing times and costs. Combining 6 sigma with Lean manufacturing augments short-term results with the power of significant changes. The result is Lean Six Sigma. Corporations increasingly prefer implementing Lean Six Sigma. Some of the reasons can be attributed to
-Wide applicability across industries and sectors.Industries across the board have accepted and successfully implemented the seamless Lean Six Sigma tool. Interestingly Lean Six Sigma is increasingly being implemented in non-manufacturing sectors which some time ago was not considered to be right targets.
-Quicker improvements:The reason it results in faster-than-expected reduction of production time and costs. Mainly because of the application tools such as kaizen, kanban and poka yoke.
-Delivers value to end users:Implementation of Lean six sigma results in tangible and real value creation for consumers & they receive better experiences in terms of increased utility and reduced prices. It also directly improves firm’s bottom line.
-Practical to execute: LSS facilitates transformation of organizations by creating a powerful linkage between strategic priorities and improvements in operations.
-Sustainable: It is highly sustainable approach, being woven into every aspect of business, leads to the creation of sustainability from top down. Sustainability results from the quick realization of tangible benefits of implementing the program.
With Lean Six Sigma it is possible to streamline their operations and to create value for both management and customers alike.