You often hear the term Kaizen being thrown around, but what are the benefits of Kaizen? In today’s blog, we’ll get into what Kaizen is and how it can benefit your business.
What is Kaizen?
Kaizen is a Japanese term that means “change for the better” or “continuous improvement”. It is a business philosophy that involves all employees at all levels of a company to proactively work together to regularly make gradual, incremental improvements to the manufacturing process and operations. Essentially, all employees are encouraged to continuously submit suggestions for improvements. That is to say, everyone is responsible for the company’s success. Therefore, everyone’s goal, at all times, should be to help make the business model better.
Through these small changes, Kaizen strives to eliminate waste (or also known as Muda, one of the three M’s from the Toyota 3M Model) and aims for efficient and standardized processes, especially in these key areas:
- — Quality: products, manufacturing processes, best practices
- — Safety: shop-floor/working conditions
- — Cost: materials, resources, labour
- — Delivery: delivery time and non-value added activities
- — Management: training, flow, and documentation
The term Kaizen is often referenced to The Toyota Way — a well-known set of guiding principles that shape the organizational culture of the Toyota Motor Corporation. Kaizen is also often simultaneously used with other continuous improvement methodologies. For example, Lean, 5S, Six Sigma, and Total Quality Management (TQM). In short, Kaizen is more of a mindset and culture than a tool. So, it can, and should, be implemented in addition to other business process improvement (BPI) methodologies (like Six Sigma and 5S).
The Four Key Benefits of Kaizen
1. Builds teamwork and collaboration
One of the most obvious benefits of Kaizen is the fact that it builds teamwork and collaboration — both of which drive Kaizen. In other words, teamwork and collaboration are essential for carrying out Kaizen (change). By solving problems together as a team, this strengthens the bond between employees. What’s more, it gives them a new perspective and a sense of belonging as everyone’s thoughts and suggestions are considered. Cross-functional collaborations play a huge part in working through a Kaizen event. Most Kaizen teams include different members from multiple departments of an organization. This is because most processes flow into one another. As a result, this strengthens the bond of the entire organization as collaboration between departments increases. In short, with Kaizen, a company can achieve a consistently successful team-building initiative with notable positive outcomes.
2. Increases efficiency
Because Kaizen encourages everyone to always look for ways to reduce and eliminate waste from all current manufacturing processes, this ensures efficiency across all departments. Additionally, because the goal is to reduce and eliminate waste, this simplifies work processes, making it easier to minimize potential errors and further increasing efficiency. An increase in efficiency can be as small as finding ways to reduce employee motion (one of the seven wastes of lean manufacturing) on an assembly line. It can also be as big as eliminating unnecessary steps from a work order process.
3. Improves employee satisfaction
An improvement in employee satisfaction is one of the more undervalued benefits of Kaizen. Employee satisfaction can significantly impact things such as employee engagement, productivity, efficiency, quality of work, and retention rates. So, by listening to and valuing employees’ suggestions for improvement, especially if it’s their area of expertise, this increases their sense of satisfaction and worth. What’s more, when employees can pitch their creative input on how to improve processes that directly affect them, they are more likely to take ownership of process improvements and become advocates for future quality improvements.
4. Improves safety
Because employees are necessary for processes and operations to run, one of the most important benefits of Kaizen is the improvement of safety on the shop-floor. Because Kaizen encourages suggestions for eliminating various types of waste (such as motion and transportation) in a process, this enables companies to reduce the chances for accidents and injuries to occur in the workplace. By using Kaizen tools like 5S, this ensures that work areas are organized and clean. As a result, this further improves safety on the shop-floor, and minimizes the risk of workplace accidents.
Management aren’t the only ones responsible for safety in a workplace — employees are too. That is to say, employees are encouraged to give ideas for making their work areas safe. This gives them the added responsibility to making their suggestions work. Improved safety also positively affects productivity. When employees don’t have to worry about safety, they can better focus on their job.
Continuously Improve with TheLeanSuite
Implementing the Kaizen methodology into your business is a great way to engage your employees and to develop a culture of continuous improvement. While it does seem obvious, employee engagement does greatly impact your business processes and success. Therefore, if you can organize and empower all of your employees to contribute to the big picture through small changes in their environment, this will help them stay longer and work smarter.
Easily implement and leverage the four key benefits of Kaizen with TheLeanSuite and its Suggestion Platform and Continuous Improvement System.
Use the Suggestion Platform to collect suggestions and ideas for improvement opportunities. The Suggestion Platform is an idea management system that builds engagement and helps foster a continuous improvement culture within organizations. Its cloud-based capabilities enables you to easily collect suggestions, provide feedback, and take action all under one central hub. With its notification system and chat feature, you can also collaborate and solve problems together to improve business processes in real-time. The Suggestion Platform features a built-in recognition and rewards system that allows you to recognize and reward top performing employees with a prize catalogue curated by you.
Continuous Improvement System
Use the Continuous Improvement System to create, implement, and manage Kaizens (projects). The Continuous Improvement System is a continuous improvement software that helps you manage all your continuous improvement initiatives seamlessly. Whether you have big or small improvement projects, use the Continuous Improvement System to oversee and direct all your improvement projects from creating a project, to creating a team work on the project, and to reviewing the success of the project.