What is Kaizen?

Kaizen is making small incremental improvements over time in order to affect positive change in an organization.

Kaizen is a Japanese term, made up of two characters – Kai (change 改) and Zen (good 善),  so Kaizen (or Kaizan, as it is sometimes spelled) is literally “change good”, or improvement.

Kaizen has been shown to have large effects in an organization, although the individual improvements are small.  (I tell my classes that my four deuces will beat out your pair of aces every time — showing that small changes, when accumulated, have a larger effect in some cases than a one-time “big splash” change.)

Kaizen is focused on the eliminatation of wastes – there are 7 (or 8) wastes that are enemies of an efficient process (we’ve discussed those in a separate blog post), and Kaizen focuses on these.

Kaizen is much more than an improvement methodology, however; it involves the worker, at their workstation, and encourages them to improve their own work, and to develop the method, materials, tools, etc. in order to do so.

This takes the concept of “here’s an idea that you can implement” and turns it into “here’s an idea that I can implement – and I’ve designed the tooling, equipment, and processes to support it!”.

By putting the power back in the hands of the worker who’s doing the task, it ensures that they design a better method that also works within the constraints of their job.

More detailed information can be found at on our Kaizen page