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Kaizen Kaizen is a Japanese concept referring to improvement.

Kaizen means ongoing improvement involving everyone, including both managers and workers. The Kaizen philosophy assumes that our way of life ( working life, social life, or home life) needs to be constantly improved. Most unique Japanese practices such as : productivity improvement, Total Quality Control (TQC) activities, Quality Control (QC) circles, or labor relation can be reduced to one word Kaizen Kaizen and Management Management has two major components: maintainance and improvement. Maintainace refers to activities directed towards maintaining current technological, managerial, and operating standards. Improvement refers to those directed towards improving current standards.

The management performs its assigned task so that everyone in the company can follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) . If people are able to follow the procedures but they dont do so, that management must introduce discipline. If people are unable to follow the standard, management must either provide training or review or revise the standard so that people can follow it.

Maintenance refers to maintaining such standards through training and discipline. By contrast, improvement refers to improving the standards. The Japanese perception of management boils down to one precept: maintain and improve standards. When it comes to improvement, it can be broken down between Kaizen and Innovation. Kaizen signifies small improvements made in the status quo as a result of ongoing efforts. Innovation involves a drastic improvement in the status quo as a result of a large investment in new technology or equipment.

Deming introduced the Deming cycle, which is one of the crucial quality control tools for assuring continuous improvement to Japan. The Deming cycle is also called the Deming Wheel. Deming stressed the importance of constant interaction among research, design, production, and sales in order for a company to arrive at better quality that satisfies customers. With this process he argues that the company could win consumer confidence, acceptance and prosper.

Plan (management): Product design Do (Production): Transferring plan into practice Check (Inspector): Sales figures give notice on customer satisfaction Act (management): If complaints are filed: they have to be incorporated into planning phase, positive steps (action) have to be taken (improvement)

Kaizen and the Suggestion System Quality Control Circles Japanese management makes an effort to involve employees in Kaizen through suggestions. Thus the suggestion system is an integral part of the established management system, and the number of workers suggestions is considered as a an important criteria in reviewing the performance of these workers supervisor Most Japanese companies active in Kaizen have programs of quality control system and suggestion systems in concern. A quality control circle is defined as a small group that voluntarily performs quality control activities within the shop. The small group carries out its work continuously as part of the company-wide program of quality control , self development, mutual education, and improvement within the workshop. One of the outstanding features of the Japanese system is that it generates a great number of suggestions from workers and management often incorporates this suggestions into the Kaizen strategy. The top management of Japanese companies often spend the entire days listening to the QC presentations and gives them awards based on the predetermined criteria. Another important aspect of the suggestion system is that once implemented, leads to a revised standard. Thus through suggestions, employees can participate in Kaizen and play a vital role in upgrading standards. Process Orientation Kaizen generated process-oriented thinking since processes must be improved before we get improved results. Further Kaizen is people oriented because and is directed at peoples efforts. This contrasts sharply with the result-oriented thinking of most Western managers. The process oriented way of thinking bridges the gap between process and result, and between goals and measures, and help people to the whole picture without bias.

Despite the fact that Kaizen is process-oriented, it does not dismiss result orientation ( actual savings). Western Management: only focuses on results Overlooks importance of process criteria E.g. attendance at QC-meetings, frequency of meetings, number of reports, N of problems solved Result criteria: basically money saved Innovation: East and West

Summary of comparison: Kaizen/ Innovation

Source: Imai (1986): 24