Kaizen with Six Sigma Ensures Continuous Improvement by
Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that focuses on continual improvement throughout all aspects of life. When applied to the workplace, Kaizen activities can improve every function of a business, from manufacturing to marketing and from the CEO to the assembly-line workers. Kaizen aims to eliminate waste in all systems of an organisation through improving standardised activities and processes. By understanding the basics of Kaizen, practitioners can integrate this method into their overall Six Sigma efforts.
What Is Kaizen?
The purpose of Kaizen goes beyond simple productivity improvement. When done correctly, the process humanises the workplace, eliminates overly hard work, and teaches people how to spot and eliminate waste in business processes.
The continuous cycle of Kaizen activity has seven phases:
Identify an opportunity
Analyse the process
Develop an optimal solution
Implement the solution
Study the results
Standardise the solution
Plan for the future
Kaizen generates small improvements as a result of coordinated continuous efforts by all employees. Kaizen events bring together a group of process owners and managers to map out an existing process and identify improvements that are within the scope of the participants.
The following are some basic tips for doing Kaizen:
Replace conventional fixed ideas with fresh ones.
Start by questioning current practices and standards.
Seek the advice of many associates before starting a Kaizen activity.
Think of how to do something, not why it cannot be done.
Don’t make excuses. Make execution happen.
Do not seek perfection. Implement a solution right away, even if it covers only 50 percent of the target.
Correct something right away if a mistake is made.
Kaizen activities cover improvements in a number of areas, including:
Quality – Bettering products, service, work environment, practice and processes.
Cost – Reducing expenses and manpower, and use of material, energy and resources.
Delivery – Cutting delivery time, movement and non-value-added activities
Management – Improving procedures, training, morale, administration, planning, flow, information systems, documentation and reporting.
Safety – Decreasing hazardous situations, unsafe working conditions, chances of resource depletion and damage to the environment.
Implementing Kaizen To generate a Kaizen, everyone involved must begin thinking about their work in a new way – in terms of:
Now: Present condition
Next: Desired state
New: How to reach that state
Typically, implementation of Kaizen occurs in three stages in any organization:
- Encourage participation: Awareness training sessions for all employees are a must. To further encourage employee involvement, promote specific Kaizen activities, and consider distributing monetary or tangible benefits after solutions from Kaizen activities are implemented.
- Training and education: Focused training of associates is required for understanding what is – and is not – the essence of Kaizen. Team leaders should be trained to understand Kaizen in an organisational vision context, which needs to be followed thoroughly in order to achieve desired business objectives. They also must be taught about the necessity of impartial evaluation and strategy for improving participation.
- Quality level improvement: After the training stage is completed, practitioners should continue to focus on long-term implication, widespread application, alignment with organisational objectives and planning objectives. Management should form a core department to carry out Kaizen evaluation and implementation.