Considering applying Kaizen for your business? Read on to discover why its benefits go beyond reducing waste.
The Japanese word kaizen comprises two kanji; “kai,” meaning change, and “zen,” meaning good.
This “good change” is interpreted as “continuous improvement” and is a popular and effective business philosophy.
You may be wondering how Kaizen techniques could benefit your business - in this blog, we’ve outlined some key examples.
What are the benefits of Kaizen?
Using Kaizen relies on it becoming an ingrained part of your company’s culture and all employees embracing these core principles when approaching their work:
- Let go of assumptions
- Be proactive in your problem-solving
- Don’t accept the status quo
- Avoid perfectionism
- When a mistake is found, look for a solution
- Foster an environment where everyone feels able to contribute
- Don’t accept face-value answers; ask “why” five times to get to the root of a problem
- Source information from a variety of people/places
- Aim to be low-cost and creative in your solutions
- Never stop improving
These principles are beneficial on their own, but when used within the context of Kaizen you may see the following results:
Improving employee engagement
Research by Gallup shows that high levels of employee engagement are good for business and are more specific than employee satisfaction/happiness.
An engaged employee cares about actively contributing to a business’s success.
Through Kaizen, employees are regularly allowed to contribute to problem-solving and are actively encouraged to share their ideas and opinions.
This leads to them feeling valued and, therefore, more engaged.
Change is more readily accepted
It can be hard to implement change in a business, and there are various reasons why employees may be resistant to taking on a new approach.
Even if an employee doesn’t outwardly challenge new systems or processes, their resistance may be reflected in their work, to the detriment of your business.
Because changes made through Kaizen are incremental and decided on with employee input, they are more likely to be accepted.
Some key elements of Kaizen are good organization and the standardization of processes.
Not only this, but Kaizen encourages these elements to be practiced to the point where they become habitual.
Over time this will improve efficiency within your business, as it means that areas in need of improvement are more visible and quicker to be addressed.
Kaizen aims to reduce waste in business processes.
Everyone is responsible for identifying areas where waste can be reduced - and waste can mean anything from using excessive materials, accruing unnecessary expenses, or wasting employee and customer time with drawn-out processes.
Through constant improvement and asking “why” five times, as mentioned above, waste can be prevented at the source.
Teamwork is an essential element of Kaizen, especially when looking to get the most out of Kaizen events.
Because employees from various teams with different areas of expertise are encouraged to work together to solve problems, one of the benefits of Kaizen is improved cooperation between departments.
For more on the value of Kaizen, hear from your peers in this Kaizen Insitute interview:
The potential drawbacks of Kaizen
The few disadvantages of Kaizen come from how well your workforce adopts it.
Teaching Kaizen can take time, and even allotted training may not be enough to convince all of your employees of its usefulness.
This resistance can cause friction when implementing Kaizen, which might cause a disconnect between different departments and compromise the goal of continuous improvement.
The easiest way to avoid these problems is by ensuring that Kaizen is adequately explained to your employees and that they are given enough time to fully understand its principles and how to apply them to their work.
Because Kaizen promotes the importance of input from employees of all levels, it is essential to take any concerns they voice about the methodology seriously and understand why they may resist change.
Even with this in mind, Kaizen's benefits will likely far outweigh the drawbacks, especially in the long run.
Get in touch with i-nexus
If you think Kaizen sounds like it might benefit you and your business, we can help.
If you need more resources and tools for working towards continuous improvement, contact us to find out more or book a demo of our strategy software.
Learn more about operational excellence
Take the next steps in your journey by exploring our operational excellence resource hub or any of the below:
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About the author
James Milsom is Head of Marketing at i-nexus.
As Head of Marketing, his drive is to raise awareness and understanding of enterprises' challenges in delivering strategic goals amidst changing markets and the obstacles traditional tools and methods present leaders.
If you’d like to talk more about strategy, reach out to James on firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with him on LinkedIn for the latest insights.