Read more rever reviews

The 4 Types of Kaizen

5 minutes, 5 seconds read

What you will learn:

  • The four types of Kaizen
  • Who needs to be involved to drive Kaizen Teian
  • How to use a Kaizen event to drive defined improvements
  • When to use Kaikaku for radical change
  • How to use Kakushin to drive breakthrough innovations
  • How to find the right Kaizen for your project

At its most basic translation, Kaizen is a Japanese term that means “continuous improvement.” However, Kaizen also is a culture and a framework for guiding the ongoing changes that can help businesses improve their operational processes. Implementing Kaizen depends on the use of a variety of tools and, in some cases, a specific type of Kaizen.

There are actually four types of Kaizen methodologies:

  1. Kaizen Teian
  2. Kaizen Events
  3. Kaikaku
  4. Kakushin

We’ll discuss further the differences among these four improvement models and when to apply each one.

Kaizen Teian: Bottom-Up Improvement

Kaizen Teian describes a form of improvement where people participate to improve their own processes. This bottom-up type of Kaizen drives a cultural transformation because it requires everyone to think about improvement every day, everywhere. At its core, Kaizen Teian is about actively involving all people in improvement. If you want to set out in creating a continuous improvement culture in your organization, you should start with Kaizen Teian.

Kaizen Teian encourages every member of the workforce, from leadership to frontline workers, to propose changes that can improve workflow. The idea is that those workers who are in the gemba, or real place, are those more likely to identify real opportunities for improving the flow of their processes.

To be successful in Kaizen Teian, one must always be looking to eliminate the eight forms of waste:

  1. Defects: Scrap or products that require rework.
  2. Excess processing: Products that must be repaired to satisfy customers needs.
  3. Overproduction: When there are more parts in production than customers are purchasing. This type of waste spells big trouble for an organization.
  4. Waiting: A person or process inaction on the manufacturing line.
  5. Inventory: A valuable product or material that is waiting for processing or to be sold.
  6. Transportation: Moving a product or material and the costs generated by this process.
  7. Moving: Excessive movement of people or machines. It is more common to talk about people movement, as this leads to wasted effort and time.
  8. Non-utilized talent: When the management team fails to ensure that all the potential and experience of its people are being used. This is the worst of the eight wastes.

Kaizen Events: Defined Improvements

Unlike daily Kaizen, a Kaizen event is not about continuous improvement—it’s about a specific process improvement developed over a brief amount of time.

Kaizen events are typically brief, focused improvement projects where people, including the management team, participate in analyzing their Value Stream Map (VSM) to solve a specific problem. While daily Kaizen projects may be small in scope or somewhat spontaneous, a Kaizen event demands thoughtful planning by team leaders involved. These events might last for several days or even weeks, and target specific challenges that, once solved, could lead to a step change in efficiency, quality or performance.

Of course, all events must be aligned with broader operational goals and processes in order to have a sustained impact.

Kaikaku: Radical Change

Sometimes small changes aren’t enough to drive the improvements an organization needs to be competitive. That’s when it’s time to turn to Kaikaku.

Unlike Kaizen, which focuses on incremental changes, Kaikaku describes a process where an entire organization is focused on a radical process transformation. Rather than improving a process, Kaikaku may demand the organization moves to an entirely new process. Examples of Kaikaku might include moving from manual to automated production or embarking on a digital transformation that drives workplace collaboration.

Hiroyuki Hirano, who developed the 5S system, offers Ten Commandments of Kaikaku:

  1. Throw out the traditional concept of manufacturing methods.
  2. Think of how the new method will work; not how it won’t work.
  3. Don’t accept excuses.
  4. Totally deny the status quo, be ready to start new.
  5. Don’t seek perfection. A 50% implementation rate is fine as long as it is done on the spot.
  6. Correct mistakes the moment they are found.
  7. Don’t spend money on Kaikaku.
  8. Problems give you a chance to use your brains.
  9. Ask “why” five times.
  10. Ideas from ten people are better than one person’s knowledge.
  11. Kaikaku knows no limits.

Once this transformation has taken place, it will depend upon Kaizen—continuous improvements—to perfect.

Kakushin: Break-through Innovation

If Kaikaku is revolutionary, Kakushin is game-changing. Kakushin happens when you move to an entirely new way of doing something. It’s about the big break-through that changes everything.

While Kaikaku might mean making a major change in how things are done, Kakushin might be about changing what is done. For example, if Kaikaku is about moving from manual to automated production, Kakushin would be the switch to 3D printing those materials, demanding new skills from the workforce.

Kakushin demands management challenge their assumptions about why they do business a certain way. It will require a culture change that can commit to a new way of doing things. Brainstorming and analysis are the tools of Kakushin.

Finding The Right Tool

While it may be tempting to think that a massive transformation will most effectively drive competitive change within an organization, Kaizen must be the foundation of any change program. Once a radical transformation has taken place, continuous improvement is necessary to fine-tune these changes and solve any new problems that may arise as a result. Daily Kaizen will lead to the next opportunity for a breakthrough shift.


Next Steps

For More Information:

Kaizen vs. Innovation: Key Differences Between the Two

Planning and Running Kaizen Events

Kaikaku from KaizenWorld

Kaikaku from Graphic Products

Kaizen, Kaikaku and Kakushin from the Benchmark 6 Sigma Forum


Ready for action? Start a free trial today!

Free Trial

Continuous Improvement and Kaizen

Creating and Driving a Continuous Improvement and Kaizen Culture

View Chapters


Go to Library