Kaizen in Japanese means ’good change’. Kaizen is one of a range of effective lean tools and is achieved by breaking something down (such as a work process) and then finding ways to make it better.
According to Manufacturing Learning Australia , the adoption of Kaizen for culture change works to create a ‘6th sense’ to ensure that all staff move from a culture of ‘doing what we have always done’ into a culture of thinking about how to do it better. Seeing where there are opportunities to improve processes by reducing time spent waiting or moving equipment to reduce unnecessary movement can lead to improved productivity and other business improvements whether manufacturing a part, providing services or running an office.
People should be acknowledged, for what they do and the suggestions they make, to create a culture where people will become innovative and improve their sense of ownership and responsibility.
Some organisations reward suggestions with small prizes and aim for a target number of improvement suggestions each year. While others find they first need to address their ‘command and control’ culture or their cumbersome approvals requirements, which act as barriers to make the culture change into an improvement focused organisation.
Kaizen and achieving culture change is the focus of one of the intensives in the Lean Skills programme – available in public seminars and customised on site programmes with optional mentoring support.