KAIZEN: The Japanese Secret Business Weapon

For many centuries, kaizen had been a secret weapon in the business world. However, in recent times it is becoming more popular among entrepreneurs.

Even though many business managers have not fully grasped the philosophy behind kaizen.

So, today, I will dig a little in the philosophy behind kaizen.

What is kaizen? (改善)


Kaizen  (改善) is derived from two Japanese’s words Kai  (meaning Change and Zen () meaning Good. Kaizen means change for good or positive change.

Kaizen is a concept referring to business activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers – Wikipedia

In business, all activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the cleaners are referred to as kaizen.

Kaizen is a continual improvement process (CIP or CI). Kaizen is making repeated, continuous little incremental improvements. It is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes.

Kaizen is a good business and way of life philosophy. It is instrumental in business management because it needs not to be executed by ‘management,’ but rather merely that it makes decisions about the implementation of the delivery process and design of the delivery process itself. W. Edwards Deming, a pioneer of the field, saw it as part of the ‘system’ whereby feedback from the process and customer were evaluated against organizational goals.

How Does Kaizen Differ from Innovation?

Innovation is making a huge, transformational improvement. Kaizen philosophy is more people-oriented, more natural to implement, requires long term discipline. Innovation, on the other hand, is harder; technology-oriented enables radical change but requires significant change management skills. Kaizen is simpler, greater, and by far more effective than innovation.

If you know how to change, then you will know how to soar.

kaizen cycle

There are three critical factors in kaizen

  • Feedback
  • Efficiency
  • Evolution

Imai explains further in his book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s competitive success noted these three things about kaizen.

  • The core principle of the Continual Improvement Process (CIP) is the (self) reflection of processes. [Feedback]
  • The purpose of the Continual Improvement Process (CIP) is the identification, reduction, and elimination of suboptimal operations. [Efficiency]
  • The emphasis of the Continual Improvement Process (CIP) is on continual incremental steps rather than giant leaps. [Evolution]

Benefit Of Kaizen In Business

1. Teamwork

One of the benefits of kaizen to business is that it creates cooperation. Kaizen brings every member of a team in. The idea comes from the talents of the existing workforce, as opposed to using research, consultants, or equipment – any of which could be very expensive. This encourages the workers to have good teamwork in the bid to improve them.

2. Personal Discipline

Kaizen encourages all employees to continually seek ways to improve their performance. Employees will always want to perform at their peak because they are responsible for their work.

Improve workers’ motivation
Another benefit of kaizen is that it naturally improves workers’ motivation. It helps encourage workers to take ownership of their work and help reinforce team working, thereby improving worker motivation.

3. Saves Money

Kaizen help business saves money since it involves small improvements which are less likely to require significant capital investment than significant process changes (innovation)

4. Easy Implementation

When it comes to easy implementation, kaizen top the list. As the ideas come from the workers themselves, they are less likely to be radically different, and therefore easier to implement.

Wrap It Up!

Today, you have been exposed to the secret weapon of prominent and successful businesses worldwide. Many big companies operate on this philosophy, and they are better for it. Instead of waiting for innovation, you can start using kaizen today. Its philosophy can be applied not only to business but to every area of your life. So, go ahead and build a better business and a better you.

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