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Kaizen is one of the key theoretical frameworks in operations management, which is widely used in almost all sectors, especially in manufacturing industry. This article presents a comprehensive overview of Kaizen and how it implemented by organizations in their own operational activities. By the end of this article, you not only will have a clear understanding of the definition of kaizen, but also you will be able to write your own papers on Kaizen without any assignment help from anyone. So, let us get in to it.

The concept of Kaizen is derived from a Japanese term meaning “continuous improvement”. From the organizational perspective the idea of continuous improvement refers to involving every human resource in the firm to achieve continuous improvement of performance. Thus, implementing Kaizen in an organization can involves including employees from all hierarchical levels of the organization who work together to achieve regular incremental improvements in the operational processes. Kaizen can be applied to any organization irrespective of its nature of business, for a manufacturing company, it is focused on improving the efficiency of the production process where maximum possible quality is achieved from minimum possible resources. Contrastingly, on a services organization, it is focused on improving the service quality and the efficiency of the service delivery process.

The core objective of kaizen is to improve organizational performance; however, it should not be confused with innovation. Even though both innovation and Kaizen are aimed at organizational performance, both take very different approach. While Kaizen is an aimed at making small increments at short intervals, innovation aims at making big leaps in large intervals. Unlike innovation, the result of Kaizen is constantly visible to the stakeholders.

Dual Nature of Definition of Kaizen

Kaizen can be described as part philosophy, part action plan.

Philosophy: Kaizen as a philosophy is about developing a culture withinthe organization where all the employees are voluntarily committed at devising and implementing improvement strategies in the company. As it is a part of the organizational culture, the entire workflow is centered around Kaizen philosophy, where every decision eventually leads to positive incremental changes.

Action Plan Kaizen as an action plan involves organizing events that are aimed at improving certain specific areas of the organization. Various teams are assigned to specific events that are focused on improving different areas of the organization.

Kaizen as a Continuous Process

As highlighted in the definition of Kaizen, it is a continuous process where a series of activities are followed in a cyclic manner. The implementation of Kaizen can be discussed using the PDCA model which involves the following cyclic steps:

  • Plan
  • Do
  • Check
  • Act

Plan: The planning stage involves developing strategies that can help an organization to identify the existing problems in the operational processes or to highlight the opportunities where further improvements can be made. It also includes setting measurable targets and deciding on the methods to be followed to achieve the objectives.

Do: The Doing stage refers to the implementation of action plan from the previous stage. The employees are required to study and be trained in the decided methods, so that they can be utilized to meet the measurable objectives.

Check: This step involves reviewing the result of the Kaizen activities. It allows managers to check whether or not the plan has been implemented as intended. Since, the objective set in the planning stage are measurable, therefore it enables the managers to easily check each and every activity and how they are aligned to the plans developed earlier. To put it simply, this stage involves checking output from the implementation stage matches the objectives set in the planning stage.

Act: This stage refers to the counter measures that are required to be taken based on the review from the checking stage. The outcomes that turn out to be favorable are standardized in the organization, whereas the areas with unfavorable outcomes are re-investigated and set for re-planning.

The PDCA cycle ensures that the incremental changes can be made within the organization in a systematic manner by following the four-stage cyclic process. It is important for you to understand that the PDCA cycle is not equivalent to Kaizen. The Kaizen is a concept of continuous organizational improvement, which can be implemented by following the PDCA cycle. At this point you should be able to write a descriptive essay on Kaizen and its underlying processes.  However, it is not enough to teach you how you can implement Kaizen on any organization or business venture of your choice. The PDCA cycle only presents a generic overview of how Kaizen is typically implemented in a company, however in order for you to prepare a formal essay on operations management that involves Kaizen, we need to dig a little deeper on how Kaizen works in an organization.

Implementing Kaizen in an Organization

As we have already discussed, the Kaizen is a continuous process involving four key stages that are followed in a cyclic manner. These four stages can be used as a foundation for applying Kaizen in an organizational setting.

The diagram shown above highlights the seven-stage process to create an environment of continuous improvement within an organization.

Involve the Employees: The application of Kaizen takes place across the organization, in every operational activity. Therefore, it is important to involve every employee in the quality improvement process, irrespective of their hierarchical position. The involvement of the employees also facilitates in a seamless change management process, where the staff members are aware of the imminent changes in the organization and their implications.

Creating A List of Problems: In order to improve the operational process, it is essential to identify the areas that needs improving. In this stage the key issues faced by the company are identified and listed so that they can be acted upon.

Facilitate Solutions and Choose Ideas: In this stage, the managers need to encourage the employees to apply creating thinking in order to find solutions for the enlisted problems. This stage allows the organization to fully take advantage of its workforce to create an extensive idea pool. The leaders then choose the most appropriate idea which can provide the most desirable results.

Test the Ideas: The chosen set of ideas needs to be tested in pilot programs in order to test its feasibility. It is important to test out the chosen idea in order to be absolutely sure about its outcome.

Constantly Measure and Assess the Results: The progress of the implementation needs to be checked at constantly intervals, in order to check how successful the change has been. It is important to continuously check if the applied changes are leading to desired results.

Adopt the Solutions that is Successful: Through constant measuring of the results, the organization can determine which outcomes are favorable and which ones are not. Based on the result, the organization choose to standardize the strategies which have been most successful in meeting the desired objectives.

Repeat the process regularly: Each of these stages discussed above needs to be repeated at regular interval of time in order to make the process of improvement continuous.

At this point you should be able to work on almost any essay topics that involve Kaizen. Till now we have discussed about the definition of Kaizen and how it can be implemented in an organization. Although the seven-staged process discussed above can be implemented on any organization, but some papers may demand the use of the 5S Model of Kaizen.Let us briefly look at what it is.

5S Framework of Kaizen

The 5S framework has been developed in order to create an ideal workplace that follows the philosophies of Kaizen in every aspect of its operation. This theoretical model is focused at creating a work environment which improved efficiency, profitability and safety through establishing order, standardization and cleanliness.

Seiri(Sort): Seiri refers to organizing the work environment. It involves identifying and isolating the items and tools that are unnecessary from the necessary ones. The unnecessary ones are then removed.

Seiton(Set in Order): Seiton refers to orderliness. It involves arranging of items and resources in such a manner so that they can be easily accessed by the employees whenever required. This as a result reduced delay in the operational processes.

Seiso(Shine): Seiso refers to cleanliness. It involves keeping the work environment clean and clutter free, which in turn can improve the workflow of the employees.

Seiketsu(Standardize): Seiketsu refers to standardization of the processes. It involves standardizing the processes that are discussed on the first three stages, so that they become part of the organizational culture.

Shitsuke(Sustain): Shitsuke refers to maintaining the culture of the constant improvement by adopting the first four stages of the 5S model.

The 5S framework allows organization to optimize its environment so that the employees can work at the highest possible efficiency. It helps in reducing wastage of time and resources, and enables employees to yield the maximum possible productivity. We have discussed some of the most useful theories on Kaizen, that should have helped you to get an in-depth understanding of what Kaizen is. At this point you should be confident enough to nail Kaizen in your papers without having to look for essay writer online. However, it is always better to learn using examples, so let us look at the case study of Toyota to see how Kaizen is applied on a real life organization.

Kaizen in Toyota

Kaizen is one of the core fundamental principles of Toyota and plays a crucial role in its production system. It aligns with the slogan of the company “Always a better way”, which thrives for continuous improvement. In Toyota, Kaizen is used to foster highest quality, elimination of wastage and increase in efficiency in terms of work process and use of equipment.

Toyota utilized kaizen to humanize the workforce thereby empowering individual employees to encourage them to identify potential areas for improvement and to suggest solutions. The organization wide culture of Kaizen ensures that it is the responsibility of every employee to adopt the standardized process of quality improvement and eliminating waste from the work environment. The involvement of the employees leads to better quality and higher degree of motivation, which in turn further improves their engagement with their job roles. Toyota has also implemented advanced technologies that can further improve the efficiency of the employees. By automating certain processes in the manufacturing system, the company has been able to reduce the wastage of man hours significantly. The employees can now be utilized in more crucial areas that need their attention. Toyota also utilizes the 5S framework to reduce clutter in its production plant, and to enable easy access to resources for the employees. Based on the principles of Kaizen no process in Toyota can ever be called ‘perfect’ as it is assumed that it can always be improved further through Kaizen.

Still Confused with Kaizen? Get an Expert Help

Kaizen is one of the most important principles operations management which allows organizations to constantly improve their activities. As a student of business management, it is imperative that you should have a strong grasp of the concept of kaizen, enough to work on any paper that demands its implementation. However, we also understand that it may not always be easy to understand and implement Kaizen in every assignment that you get. This is where our professional writer service come in. Simply hire our professional writing service and stop struggling with your Kaizen essay. All you need to do is to place an order with us and let our expert writers deal with your papers, while you sit back and relax.

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