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How Kaizen is Transforming Companies – The Role of Kaizen

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Challenge your team to meet their goals

This article explores how kaizen is transforming companies. This transformation may span quality, safety, efficiency, savings, and most importantly – culture

What you will learn in How Kaizen is Transforming Companies – The Role of Kaizen

  • Why Implement Kaizen
  • Kaizen puts the focus back on the customer
  • Kaizen increases competitive advantage
  • Kaizen nurtures an engaged, proactive workforce
  • Kaizen encourages local decision making and initiative
  • Kaizen lets information flow smoothly
  • Kaizen radically improves teamwork
  • Kaizen leads to better creativity
  • Kaizen boosts productivity

Kaizen is a Japanese term often translated as “continuous, ongoing improvement” and is an entire process that is problem-solving and people oriented. It is both an action plan and a philosophy, a set of general guidelines, and an aspirational way of life.

Ever since it entered the global business lexicon in the 1980s thanks to its tremendous results in Toyota’s automobile factories, Kaizen has captured the world by storm and fired the imaginations of managers at every level of competence.

But what is its appeal? And what can a company gain by adopting Kaizen as a way of life?

Why Implement Kaizen? The Benefits of a Kaizen Culture

Building a Kaizen culture isn’t easy. But companies that invest time and effort into studying and promoting it to their workforce reap a large number of benefits that can only come from assiduously absorbing its tenets into daily work.

And it’s more than just increasing quality and reducing waste. When properly implemented, Kaizen can bring positive results in various ways to every level of your organization.

Here are its most important benefits:

  • Kaizen puts the focus back on the customer
  • Kaizen increases competitive advantage
  • Kaizen nurtures an engaged, proactive workforce
  • Kaizen encourages local decision making and initiative
  • Kaizen lets information flow smoothly
  • Kaizen radically improves teamwork
  • Kaizen leads to better creativity
  • Kaizen boosts productivity

Kaizen Puts the Focus Back on the Customer

Kaizen refocuses your thinking back on the primary reason you’re in business: to serve the customer. By constantly looking to improve your products, you produce higher quality output that consumes less waste and contains less flaws. Of course, the result is outstanding products that please the customer.

That focus however means systems and processes are constantly being improved upon. There is no status quo when you’re always thinking about what will make the customer happy. Thus:

  • Every action is undertaken with a view toward meeting customer expectations regarding product quality.
  • Every customer interaction is placed under the lens to see how these interactions can be made more valuable.
  • Every worker comprehends what the higher goals are, what their role is in reaching that goal of customer satisfaction.

Kaizen Increases Your Competitive Advantage

The improvement in product is one reason why Kaizen contributes to your competitive advantage. All the progress made to lower costs and eliminate waste result in higher quality products that are produced at a faster pace, and blow the competition out of the water.

But the other thing to note is that Kaizen’s unrelenting continuous development of workers’ competencies, idea management, and operational process improvement all uplevel your workforce, creating the kind of long-term value that the world’s best companies possess.

Kaizen Nurtures an Engaged, Proactive Workforce

According to a Jobvite study, 82% of employees are continuously looking for opportunities elsewhere.frontline workers leveraging continuous improvement

And from a Gallop study, 70% of U.S. workers are disengaged from their workday.

Yet companies that claim they have a Kaizen culture can boast of a workforce that is deeply engaged with their work.  

Why is that?

Because the companies that have effectively adapted its tenets have empowered employees at every level to make proactive changes where necessary. By valuing people and working to develop their potential, you nudge them toward better engagement with their work. And the great thing about employee engagement is that workers tend to be more satisfied with their jobs.

Kaizen Encourages Local Decision Making & Initiative

When Kaizen is applied through a consistent program, it helps employees think differently about their roles and their work. It’s about building a culture where every worker is empowered to suggest or directly implement any improvement to the way things are done.  

Thus, employees have a direct impact on processes and how they are optimized. If they spot waste on a production line, they have the power to report it and directly change it. Initiative and decision making are rewarded and encouraged.

When you give employees the tools and the opportunity to change things for the better, you can bet they will. Kaizen makes this behavior a natural way of thinking and behaving.

Kaizen Lets the Information Flow Smoothly

Here’s the thing about a corporate culture where you’re all looking to improve the way the company does things: that shared purpose builds collaboration and trust.Information flows freely in Kaizen culture

And where there is trust, information tends to break free of individual silos.  

Since you’re all after the common goal of improving processes and products, you’re more open to sharing information with your colleagues that may help with their work. The common goal is elevated above whatever advantages you may get from holding onto information.   

Kaizen Radically Improves Teamwork

Furthermore, when the information your company needs to get the job done is freely shared among your engaged workforce, this results in improved teamwork at all levels. Employees will come together despite differences in order to solve problems.   

Kaizen Leads to Better Creativity

One of the biggest reasons why Kaizen improves the creativity of the entire organization is because it forces you to look at processes from a solutions perspective.

What are you trying to solve? What pains are the customers experiencing? How can you build something that answers those pain points exactly? Answering these questions head on allows you to solve problems continuously.

Kaizen Boosts Productivity

As with any organization, an increase in productivity helps the business increase bottom line revenue.

According to Gallup, disengaged employees in the U.S. cost companies $450-550 billion in lost productivity per year. Any improvement in productivity helps prevent this loss.

Except, how do you track your productivity? While there is no direct “productivity scorecard” you can download that will lay out the KPIs you need to monitor, here are several suggested metrics you may want to track on a monthly basis. These KPIs will tell you if your productivity is increasing:

  • Number of improvement suggestions submitted by workers
  • Number of improvement suggestions implemented
  • Number of improvement initiatives completed
  • Average time to complete improvement initiatives

Who cares about productivity in a bureaucratic organization where red tape is the norm? Or in a company where workers get no incentive to deliver excellent work in the least amount of time? The answer is: no one.

But in an enlightened organization that has seen the powers of information sharing and the effects that empowering a workforce can give them? The answer: everyone.   

Next Steps

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of adopting Kaizen within your company, do a little more research on what Kaizen is and how it can help you. There are links below, and more articles in our Center of Excellence. Continuous improvement also means constantly being willing to learn. Read on!

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