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A Review in the Basics of Six Sigma: Kaizen

Kaizen continuous improvement

The word Kaizen means “improvement” in the Japanese language. When the same word Kaizen is used in the workplace, it means continuous improvement that involves the entire staff.

It is a philosophy or mindset; the entire organization is involved and engaged in its own improvement. It is a company culture where everyone is truly interested in improving the company and has a stake in its success. This mindset is continuous — it is the philosophy that runs the company, with small continuous improvements.

Kaizen is also part action strategy. This means organizing events that involve teams of staff members that are focused on improving specific areas in the company or organization. Its purpose is to continuously identify and quickly remove waste, thus adding value in each of the processes that run the company.

A Kaizen Event Process

The Kaizen mindset is an everyday philosophy within a company for continuous small improvements that will add up with amazing results. A Kaizen event, on the other hand, is a dedicated event that lasts 3-5 days and has a clear set goal to accomplish.

A Kaizen event includes the following aspects:

  • Orientation
  • Comprehend the Current Status
  • Develop Future Design
  • Make the Necessary Improvements
  • Report and Celebrate

Important Points to Remember

  • Keep an open mind
  • Remain positive
  • Voice disagreements in a kind manner
  • Create a safe, blameless environment
  • Mutual respect at all times
  • Everyone’s opinion and suggestions count

Here is a partial list of the tools used:

  • Value Stream Map
  • 5s
  • Bottleneck Analysis
  • Heijnka (Level Scheduling)
  • Kanban (Pull system)
  • Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
  • Poka-Yoke (Error Proofing)
  • Visual Factory

There are several benefits:

  • Employee morale increases twofold
  • Improved quality
  • Lower production costs
  • Faster delivery
  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • Reduction in waste
  • Space utilization
  • Provides immediate results

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