Best approaches for promoting continual improvement. Mark Berry, Sandra Griffith, and Juan Carlos are seniors at Florida Tech University, majoring in industrial technology with a quality emphasis.
Mark Berry, Sandra Griffith, and Juan Carlos are seniors at Florida Tech University, majoring in industrial technology with a quality emphasis. All three hope to be quality directors after graduation. “I am going to use the Kaizen approach when I graduate and land my first job,” said Mark. “It’s simple, easy to use, and effective.” “Not me,” replied Sandra. “I like the Six Sigma approach.” “I’m not going to use either of them,” said Juan. “I’m going to make myself a master list of improvement strategies and use whatever is best for the individual situation.”
Join their debate. What approach do you think is best for promoting continual improvement, and why?
A true Japanese development philosophy, kaizen is composed of two words, kai 改, and zen 善 which means “change” and “better”.
Also known as the small-step work improvement approach, or the method of continuous improvement, the Kaizen approach was developed in the United States under the Training With Industry (TWI) program, set up by consultants (including W. Edwards Deming) under the supervision of General MacArthur, to help the Japanese industry recover after World War II.
Masaaki Imai made the term famous in 1986 with his book “Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s competitive success”.
Initially implemented in the industrial sector, it was used for lean manufacturing, a management approach to reduce waste and increase profits.
Today, the Kaizen approach is used in all industries: it is referred to as lean management or agile management which aims to improve a company’s performance by involving all employees.
The approach, therefore, requires a corporate culture adapted to this philosophy, and sometimes even guidance to change.
Be careful not to confuse the Kaizen approach with the Kaizen workshop, or kaizen blitz, or kaikaku (reform), which is used for major changes in a production system, a reengineering.
The Kaizen approach is increasingly used for personal development. Moreover, it is a vital tool for people who fear failure, abrupt changes, and frustration. They can use this approach to help learn a foreign language without putting pressure on themselves, quit smoking little by little and even overcome their shyness.
The Kaizen approach consists of 5 founding elements :