Kaizen Continuous Improvement Process: How to use it in your business

“Today better than yesterday, tomorrow better than today.”

This sentence perfectly represents the essence of the Kaizen continuous improvement process, a Japanese philosophy focused on continuous improvement in all aspects of people’s lives, whether in the family, social, personal or professional issues.

The Kaizen continuous improvement process states that no two days must elapse in the company without at least some improvement being committed to, whether in organizational structure or the lives of employees.

Thus, Kaizen became known worldwide for being a management system that generates great results, allowing companies that use it to reduce costs and increase the productivity of their employees, thereby increasing their profitability.

Also have a look at the PDCA cycle, the US methodology for continuous improvement.

The Origin of the Kaizen Continuous Improvement Process

The origin of the Kaizen Continuous Improvement Process in business occurred in Japan shortly after the end of World War II. Due to the war effort, the country’s economy was devastated and having a series of difficulties. The working conditions of Japanese workers were not at all favorable, largely because of the hard labor laws imposed during the seven years of US occupation, 1945-1952.

At this time, unions of various categories of Japanese workers incessantly fought for better working conditions and higher salaries for employees, and with great effort secured some agreements that guaranteed bonuses and adequate wages.

With the end of the Allied occupation in the early 50s, the Japanese government started a project of joint studies in the field of administration and management, with a focus on total quality aimed at restructuring the economy and industrial processes, so that Japanese companies could return to being competitive internationally.

And thus was born the Kaizen continuous improvement process. Combining administrative theories from renowned French engineer and author Jules Henri Fayol, the innovator of ideas for improvement in statistical processes, and American professor William Edwards Deming, and considering that the Kaizen philosophy was already deeply rooted in Japanese culture, a successful continuous improvement system was created, which was aimed not only at the good of the company but also and especially so, the good of the men working in it.

The Kaizen continuous improvement process was structured to be always searching for production processes, administrative maintenance of machinery and equipment and eliminating any waste in companies.

The three core assumptions of the Kaizen continuous improvement process are the financial and emotional stability of employees, pleasant organizational atmosphere and a simple, organized and functional work environment.

Check out the nine central commandments of the Kaizen Continuous Improvement Process

  1. Practical learning.
  2. All waste must be eliminated.
  3. All employees must be engaged in the improvement process.
  4. Increased productivity must be based on actions that do not demand high financial investment.
  5. Any location or company should apply.
  6. Improvements made must be disclosed, as a way to have transparent communication.
  7. Actions should be focused at the place of greatest need.
  8. Kaizen should be directed so that its purpose is sole to improve processes.
  9. Prioritizing the improvement of people is the most important aspect.

Currently, the concept of BPM (Business Process Management) is recognized as the most efficient and effective when it comes to the implementation of the continuous improvement philosophy in business.

There is no better tool for this purpose than BPM software, which with numerous and unique features allows a broad, flexible and transparent form, that managers can define, model, simulate, execute, monitor and thus, improve their business processes, which improves the company’s performance and in turn increases its profitability.

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