What are the five founding elements of the Kaizen method?

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Kaizen is a word and a method created after world war II in Japan. The meaning of the word Kaizen is “continuous improvement.” It is derived from the Japanese word “kai,” which means change, and “zen,” which means good. It is a system that involves every employee right from the janitorial crew to the senior management. All the organization workers are encouraged to develop a few recommendations and small improvement ideas on a continuous and regular basis. 

In many Japanese companies like Canon and Toyota, the employees make around 65 suggestions per year. These suggestions are noted, shared, and then implemented. In most cases, these are minor changes. Kaizen is based on making small changes regularly. It helps in improving productivity always, effectiveness, and safety, along with reducing waste. These Kaizen suggestions are not limited to any particular areas like marketing or production. Kaizen believes in making changes in every single place where improvement is needed or can be made. The Kaizen philosophy can be summarized as “do it and make it better, and improve it even if it is broken. Because if we don’t do this, it will get tough to compete with those who do.”

Kaizen consists of a lot of famous Japanese methods for improving processes like

  1. Quality Circle
  2. Process Automation
  3. Suggestion Systems
  4. Just-in-time delivery
  5. 5S

Kaizen involves setting and continuously improving those standards. To aid the higher standards, Kaizen also includes providing materials, training, and supervision for the workers to achieve and maintain the standards and meet the criteria on an on-going basis. There is a standard activity cycle which is followed in Kaizen:

  1. Standardize the activity and operation
  2. Measuring the operation by finding cycle time and in-process inventory
  3. Gauge Measurement
  4. Innovation for increasing productivity and meeting requirements
  5. Standardize the new
  6. Continuing the cycle.

Kaizen’s key elements are efforts, quality, the involvement of all employees, communication, and willingness to change. Simplilearn’s certified scrum master can help in understanding better.

The application of Kaizen can be in any manufacturing environment as well as in the office environment. Kaizen has been already applied to many areas like human resource, purchasing, sales, material management, marketing, material management, contracts, product design engineering, accounts payable/receivable, government affairs, records or document administration, customer service, research, engineering support, software engineering, order entry, loan processing, quality, legal, sales support, regulatory compliance, etc. The Simplilearn’s certified scrum master will provide an implementation path. 

BPI or Business Process Improvement is where the IT department can help the organization shorten cycle time, reduce costs, and improve the process’s efficiency. To automate routine tasks, reduce cycle times, eliminate waste, and achieve a systematic approach for continuous improvement can be achieved by automation. The major project of any IT business is to improve business processes. Automating, before fixing the initial business processes never gives the expected outcome.

5S is a method whose name is derived from the five initial letters of the Japanese words. This method was initially created to organize a workspace for effectiveness. Let us understand what each ‘S’ stands for and what does it mean:

  1. Seiri: 

Meaning: Sorting.

Description: Discard useless items, keep only the necessary things in the work area, dispose of the less often used items, or keep them in a remote storage area.

  1. Seiton:

Meaning: Systematic Arrangement.

Description: It means that systematic arrangement is needed for the most effective and efficient retrieval. Everything should have a place, and it should mandatorily be in its place. The place for each item should be restricted or labeled clearly. They should be arranged to promote effective workflow, usually using the types of equipment that are most easily accessible. It should be kept in mind that the employees should not need to bend repetitively to access any material.

  1. Seiso:

Meaning: Shining.

Keep the workspace clean and all the types of equipment tidy, clean, and organized. When implementing 5S for the first time and doing a thorough cleaning, there should be a daily follow-up to sustain the improvement. It is believed that a shining workplace or environment will lead to significant, effective, and efficient gains. Simplilearn’s Certified Scrum Master will help you understand all the S’ and factors of Kaizen thoroughly.

  1. Seiketsu:

Meaning: Standardizing.

Work practices should be standardized and consistent. All the workers doing the same job should work in any station using the same tools that can be found in the same location in literally every station. Everyone should understand and have proper knowledge of their responsibilities. 

  1. Shitsuke:

Meaning: Sustaining.

Only when the previous 4 S’ have been established in any organization, they become the new way of functioning and operation. On successful implementation, it should be made sure that the method should only improve and should not gradually decline back to the older methods used in the organization. Kaizen’s effect or continuous improvement leads to better quality, less wastage, and faster lead times.

Kaizen aims to improve productivity, safety, effectiveness, and waste reduction. Organizations who follow this method have often found much return in terms of:

  1. Less wastage: Inventory is observed to be used efficiently.
  2. People Satisfaction: Direct impact on the way of doing work.
  3. Commitment: Team members are inclined to commit to their work by doing a good job, and they tend to have more stake in their career.
  4. Retention: Engaged and satisfied people are more likely to stay for a more extended period.
  5. Competitiveness: Once efficiency is increased, the cost is lowered, and the quality is improved.
  6. Customer satisfaction, improved problem solving, and improved teams.

The students and professionals should become Simplilearn’s certified scrum master and try to study various methods and techniques that can be used to improve the business processes. You will learn to implement the practices to create a perfect framework.