Continuous Improvement (KAIZEN) ? Key Facts

A profit generator and a career growth opportunity?

Continuous Improvement (KAIZEN) is here. Do you know a continuous improvement initiative can generate higher profitability into your small business or multi-billion company? And it can also make you a star in your current organization if you properly initiated and success in a continuous improvement project. When I used to work as a lean management executive, my manager asked me to increase the productivity and optimized of the plastic plant by conducting a “KAIZEN.” By that time even I used to have a certain background to industrial engineering, I did not have a higher sense regarding the term Continuous improvement.

Industries mainly have to consider continuous improvement

With the advancements in technology, almost every manufacturing organization tries to find the time, cost, and quality the most when they deliver the product to the market. Talking about cost, if there is a process that does prove to be congestion for the entire product, it will cause the total price of a unit product or maybe bulk. In here where it is required to enhance the quality of the process with the usage of proper methodologies to get the market advantage over others

Continuous improvement concepts 

According to the country or regions, different strategies and tools used by professionals. Japanese and German techniques are in the top of that list, and I have listed two of the most popular continuous improvement methodologies at present;

PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle)

PDCA represent for the plan, do, check and act it is a cycle that can follow forever until the desired result generates;


At the planning stage, we are to gather the initial information related to the improvement and plan what to conduct. Making the action plan at the stage need to be done.


In the Do step, we implement the need to have a workaround and get the relevant data recorded for our preference. This is a critical part in continuous improvement


At the check stage, the results are checked concerning the previous settings and reviewed the results.


Concerning the results, the actions have to take. To retake the steps, it needs to plan again.

By following the cycle, the improvements can achieve however it needs to note that the just following the cycle may not give an improvement immediately it may require some time to adapt for the workforce for the

KAIZEN (Continuous Improvement)

Masaaki Imai, who is known as the father of continuous improvement, was the first to invent the Kaizen module, which is a Lean Kaizen strategy calls for never-ending efforts for improvement involving everyone in the organization managers and workers alike. The Toyota Company is the most famous example which uses in practice

Kaizen methodology

Kaizen methodology considered 3M’s with 4M’s

The 3M’s are:

  • Mura (Unevenness),
  • Muri(overburden),
  • Muda (non-value-adding work)

The 3M’s can define as below;

  • Mura – This is a time system that based on supplying the right part at the right time to the right place without pilling up an inventory or any. It is the Just in time item arrival.
  • Muri- Standardization of the process to avoid any unwanted process that reduces the quality and efficiency of the process
  • Muda- Elimination of non-value adding activities in the process.

The 4M’s are: 

  • MAN

The 4M’s needs to match each of the 3M’s. As an example, if we take “MAN,” we need to give standardized instructions to avoid any non-value value-adding activities to have the product in time without any waste.

Furthermore, Gemba Kaizen is a term that means where real actions take place. In production is known to be the shop floor where all the value-adding activities are carried out. In addition for better improvement, proper industrial safety products also need to use.

Few of the golden rules in Gemba Kaizen are;

  1. Housekeeping using 5S strategy
  2. Muda elimination
  3. Standardization

When you are to perform a Kaizen, it is essential to note that the continuous improvement cycle will need to start by using the PDCA methodology to get better results. Cause when both are combined, the out-come will be much quicker.

How the human factor can use for making of a continuous Improvement

A continuous process does not mean to be conducted only on machinery but also with the real blue-color employees are the once who operate the machine. Many organizations do have an incentive scheme based on daily production, which is a motivating factor.  Even though it is there,  the proper guidelines and instruction to maneuver a machine and to monitor the worker’s cycle times are also a great way to improve the skill of the workers in a fast-paced environment.

A Kaizen: How to start it at your company

Get to the background research done

Applying Kaizen or any continuous improvement needs to be done sequentially with patience to have a manufacturing process improvement at your site. First, you need to observe a process a routine which you may think it can be improved. Secondly, study the process and conduct a process mapping properly. If you know value stream mapping that would come handy but it is not mandatory at the start. When you study the process, then you may be able to use Microsoft Visio or any diagram drawing software to visualize it. Subsequently, after the mapping conducted, approach and  talk to you immediate boss with facts, it is better if you can show with numbers respect to financially and set an average target that you expect to get via the process improvement

If your supervisor adds things, get it as well, because ideas may come as handy with the experience of your boss, and it may be the golden ticket for your improvement. With this in mind, after getting the feedbacks to start a trial on a small scale. But be sure if it is process critical during an urgent time, be aware of that.  Sometimes the way you are to make the process improvement may cause a loss to the company. Therefore, be considered the importance of that by conducting Continuous improvement training and awareness sessions.

Once you are sure to go, start the project, take some of your time in the office, and conduct a trial and error methodology to get samples. Once you get more than 15+ samples (You may try for more, totally up to you). Try to generate the trend of the results and make sure to compare them with the set targets.

Starting the Kaizen

Now you have data; you use as well as the PDCA modules for use. Here on, following each of those cycles would surely positively give you results, even if it not showing any improvement, do not give up. Above all, it is crucial to provide feedback to your immediate boss, cause when we use an agile way to work. Working to gather comes excellent. Once you are ready with a considerable number of samples, illustrate the results, and share it with the other people on the production floor. You can have a meeting with them in every two weeks’ time once you get to practice the PDCA methodology. If you can go for higher objectives, but at the start, keep it simple.

Besides, In this performance enhancement, be aware of the human factor vigilantly, if you are to reduce some labors by making kaizen process improvements. People may demotivate, and they will try to slow down or follow unnecessary routes to get the work done, which would eventually generate a cost. To avoid any conflicts, I highly suggest to talk to HR personal who is responsible for the people and create a plan and think of what you are to do with the situations.

A career progression will be quick

In summary, if you are a success, this may be a stepping stone for a fruitful career if you just started your career; consequently, the lean way of thinking will give your organization the upper hand eventually.  Moreover, you will be able to gain trust in your work with the rest of the workforce. Since that is what you like to get as an individual, I suggest you look for continuous improvement Kaizen opportunities from today onwards.

You can read more about the 8 lean wastes in lean manufacturing by following this article – Wastes of Lean Manufacturing : how to avoid Muda, How OEE can help for high efficiency

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