What is Kaizen?

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Lets see what will be in this app? Lots of useful tips, tool and advice from ancient civilizations, gurus of time management and successful people…What is Kaizen? Japanese philosophy about improvement and productivity. So, can we use Kaizen in the modern world? Some people call kaizen an approach that implies ongoing implementation of improvements in a company or some industrial setting. Others consider that this is a philosophy that penetrates all spheres of life in Japan. Some authors call kaizen an art of making big things via small, steady increments. No matter what you call it, it brought incredible, breakthrough changes – the phenomenon that is known as Japanese miracle.

The concept appeared in the 1950-s when after the war efforts were made to rethink many processes to make them more effective.  With time it became the basic concept of Japanese management.  It is about little steps taken to improve the standards of work or processes. The improvements are small but accumulated over time they bring huge changes. It refers only to slight changes, not radical improvements – something that can be implemented within a day. Some activities require big expenditures but they are not effective enough. When you apply principles of kaizen, you remove such activities from the process. The task is to determine unneeded things and get rid of them.

Kaizen has to do with corporate processes and personal improvement as well. The efficacy of kaizen was highly assessed as all were impressed with the results and it became known in other countries the world. Kaizen is not concentrated on the result only. The process matters too. The unnecessary routine processes are removed and work becomes easier. When the work is process oriented, it demonstrates incredible productivity.  In accordance with kaizen, the process also matters, not just the result as in western countries.

Kaizen revolves around the teamwork (with attention to the opinion of each member of the team), constant urge to improvement (even when everything seems perfect). All participants of the system think hard and work over optimization and innovative approach. It does not matter if you belong to senior management or cleaning staff. Even part-time employees are involved being guided by the kaizen principles. All employees are encouraged to contribute to better environment, conditions or productivity. Can you imagine that each employee of such companies as Canon and Toyota comes up with about 60-70 written suggestions annually that are introduced later. It refers to absolutely all spheres thus raising standards all the time.

There is something stable and solid in our understanding of standards but not for the Japanese who always want to raise it thanks to kaizen. This system formed the other kind of manager, which is principally different from managers in other countries of the world. The Japanese tackle all processes easier. This is the reason for Japanese miracle that brought to incredible economic development of the country.

Is it possible to incorporate something of the kind outside of Japan? Some elements can be definitely borrowed especially when you are dealing with an important task. All decisions are made by consensus in the company. It is discussed by all in the company and then the decision is taken. The Japanese focus rather on the question than on the answer. Sometimes it is so that there is no need for decision. One just needs to define the question properly. Sometimes consensus is reached on this step.

The answer is not pronounced before it is discussed. In this case people will have to take sides. There is not winning or losing side. All look for the solution, not fight with each other for victory. It motivates people to participate actively in the discussion. The Japanese has low resistance to changes that is common for Western people. People with any level of qualification are always ready to develop and acquire new knowledge. Besides, this does not guarantee better positions for them. These are just some of the traits in the Japanese society that affect the economy. The Japanese always ask themselves if they can do better. The society has a perfect self-organization scheme that is aimed at self-improvement. We can incorporate some of these principles into our daily life. If we move to the goal gradually and introduce small changes, this can ultimately bring impressive dividends. Small changes can change the whole life, while the efforts are not so big.