Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Japanese Secret to Boosting Productivity.

Kaizen principle 

Kaizen roughly translates to “change for the better,” and puts creating customer-defined value at the center of all business activity. The irony is that while kaizen may be a Japanese word, and responsible for Japan’s quality progress, it is an American-made method, born during World War II.

The Birth of Continuous Improvement

During the second world war, U.S. factories needed ways not only to ramp up production quickly, but also to rapidly train people to replace the workers who had become soldiers.

A program known as the job methods, taught how to generate and implement ideas through hundreds of small changes that could be affected immediately.


The term coined for the method was “continuous improvement.”The whole idea was that Improvement needs to be quick, cheap and lean.

By 1953, the approach had become Japan’s de facto business practice and had been customized and incorporated into nearly every business operation in the country. Japan made continuous improvement on its own, dubbing it kaizen.

According to the kaizen view, there are two types of work: value adding and non-value-adding. Anything that doesn’t add value for someone somewhere should be targeted for reduction or removal, because the stated goal of kaizen is to constantly improve the tangible drivers of value: quality, cost and delivery speed. The best way to do that is to eliminate all the things that hurt quality, raise costs and slow things down.

Why Kaizen Matters

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts,”John Wooden once said.

Kaizen has three simple steps: First, create a standard. Second, follow it. Third, find a better way. Repeat endlessly. Trying to improve and innovate without a standard as reference is like a journey with no starting point. It’s like hitting golf balls in the fog.

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