Kaizen, translated from Japanese means continuous improvement. The idea of Kaizen, as insignificant as it may seem at first, is a remarkably effective technique. Not just for businesses, but it is applicable even to our human life. In fact, we have heard this many times before that small frequent actions lead to bigger results.
So the idea from Business aspect, is that instead of focusing on and prioritizing huge investments and radical changes in techniques, what the business should do is take small countless steps day-in, day-out, all the time in order to improve themselves overall. Althogh Kaizen focuses on many things as it is a philosophical approach and not theoretical approach, and one could go on about improving themselves forever, Kaizen focuses on many key aspects.
One of the key aspects is reduction in waste. Again, so far this is an abstract idea because reduction in waste further talks about reduction in waste from:
- over production
- Employee movement
- Time lapses between completion of production
- Idle time
What all of these basically talk about is that for e.g. When workers get their break and are sitting idle, instead of letting them just sit and think about what their next hamburger would be, the manager could integrate their break with an interesting activity that may not necessarily look like a part of work but leads to their own improvement. This could result in better performance during work time. Another idea is that when the machine is taking its time to complete or finish the production or when the machine is moving the production from one stage to another, then the time taken during this movement could be used for other aspects, e.g. the ingredients needed for the upcoming stage of production could be prepared prior to the product reaching that stage or the machine could be polished one more time, etc. Again, since this a raw concept, not everything can be determined and explained, as it varies from one company to another, but identifying and eliminating the gaps is the constant idea.
One thing to consider is planning when to make the changes. Remember the idea of Kaizen is to eliminate waste, make continuous efficient improvement. However, if you just randomly make a quick change, even if it Is very subtle then that will cause confusion among the workers and the operational division which will lead you back to the main problem, that is, more waste.
Kaizen also encourages you to set up suggestion boxes or have natural conversation with your workers in order to get their opinion. By making small changes, that for e.g. help them do their daily tasks slightly faster will not only make them feel valued, as you are taking actions on their problems, but will also benefit the business in terms of employee efficiency and furthermore will lead the employees to work with more heart which, of course, will have multiple effects.