Why you Must Try the 10 Kaizen Principles (Now!)

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When a company’s culture becomes about better ways of doing business and continuous improvement, successful business deals and profitability are guaranteed. However, this requires serious commitment and self-discipline. In the Japanese language, “Kaizen” describes the consistent improvement of all corporate functions at every management level. The word also represents an employee’s competitive strategy for teamwork and a strong culture for progress within business processes. Let’s explore the 10 Kaizen Principles.

What is Kaizen?


Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “improvement,” “good change,” or “change for the better.” The underlying philosophy for Kaizen is that incremental, slight improvements create positive impact.

The Kaizen Principles provide creative solutions for enhancing organizational areas by motivating the entire workforce to practice smart working in order to make consistent improvements.

This is done by taking small, regular steps that lead to progress and success in the quality of processes, thereby leading to greater efficiency and profitability. The Kaizen methodology helps build a workforce that is always ready to develop and innovate.

The idea behind this is that an employee who performs most tasks, especially when committed and focused, will possess the most knowledge about the process.

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Kaizen Principles

Benefits of the Kaizen Principles

  • Waste reduction
  • Immediate troubleshooting
  • Optimum utilization of resources
  • Improved teamwork
  • Higher quality of work

Where did the Kaizen Principles originate?


Kaizen can be traced back to Japan’s post-World War II economic reform. It began with the Creative Idea Suggestion System implemented by Toyota Motor Corporation in 1951. Innovations and frequent changes resulted in higher product quality and workforce productivity, contributing to Toyota’s rise to the status of an auto giant.

Around 1955, when Japanese executives began their official visit to the United States as part of its Japan Productivity Center initiatives, diplomats started integrating the American business style into the Japanese humanized approach and later in the 1980s a Toyota management consultant popularized the notion of Kaizen.

Key elements of the Kaizen Principles


  • Teamwork
  • Personal discipline
  • Improved morale
  • Quality circles of employees
  • Suggestions for improvement
  • Management commitment
  • Employee empowerment
  • Gemba walk

 

 

Kaizen Principles, explained


  1. Foster a data-driven culture

One of the best ways to ensure continuous improvement is to create a data-driven culture, which leaves no room for assumptions. You must apply data to daily decisions and measure improvements with the right metrics.

This means you must know what you want to improve upon and the metrics to use. Any time your team wants to implement a change, tie such change to a metric or piece of data.

Making data the foundation of important decisions requires tracking resource use, including time spent performing tasks.

Most companies struggle with keeping an overview of employee attendance. TimeTrack Timesheet is a time-tracking software that enables managers to create a working time model to track employee attendance, including working hours, breaks, sick leaves and absences. The tool guarantees transparent planning with a single click, reducing planning efforts and saving time spent on manual planning. This data can be reviewed and the results thereof, implemented within the Kaizen methodology.

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TimeTrack Timesheet and a terminal clock

  1. Challenge standards and practices

Every organizational culture reveres elders who have handed down certain practices and values to a younger generation. These values represent the foundation of company’s success and there is nothing wrong with them as long as they do not hamper progress. In that case, these practices can soon become reason for underdevelopment or failures. Challenge the practices that have remained in place. No matter how good the tradition, there are always things to improve.

  1. Do away with preconceived notions

Organizational cultures tend to have fixated ideas on how things should be done and what should be valued, usually cultivated through repetition. For an organization to make progress, they must focus on what matters to them most while asking opposing questions and sharing opposing views. It takes a smart mind to hold opposing views on something while still functioning normally.

 4. Find opportunities in problems

Opportunities hide in challenges, problems and waste. The problem is spotting them. Every organizational challenge is an enormous opportunity, which lies in providing solutions to the problems. The opportunity also lies in creating values, boosting efficiency, contributing ideas and developing talents.

 5. Call upon wisdom in difficult times

The best way to improve yourself is to develop your wisdom. This is the ability to think and act upon your knowledge, understanding, experience, insight and common sense. Wisdom for your organization could mean deep understanding of issues and tolerance in difficult times. It is in the spirit of Kaizen to develop wisdom in times of uncertainty. This means the ability to see opportunities in difficulties, thus promoting growth and improvement.

  1. Keep a positive attitude

A positive mindset opens your eyes to opportunities for both personal and professional development. Positive attitudes are the foundation of new habits. They bolster employee morale, foster motivation to effect change, improve organizational processes and fuel improvement.

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  1. Eliminate excuses

The spirit of Kaizen is a positive one but a positive mind is not enough for the desired growth and development that transform the status quo. You must believe that changing the current situation is feasible.

Excuses are often credible but they must not persist.

Use your mental energy to keep innovating and trying distinct solution points. Seek thousands of means to invent a simple improvement. A to-do list can help you simplify specific tasks, make processes simpler, faster and cheaper, or establish new cultures or ideas.

 8. Creativity before capital

The best ways to bring about positive change are to hire people with the right knowledge and skills, invest in new technologies and use your creativity. If you have the resources, it is great to hire professionals and invest in new technology. Yet, you will have to be creative at some point. Becoming creative is the surest way to make permanent improvements. Your team must be motivated to ideate and you must create internal motivation for the ideation to last.

  1. Keep the wisdom of 10

Do not rely on one source of information for decision-making. Each person has his worldview. The wider your information source, the more diverse and richer your knowledge base. Thus, with the wisdom of ten, as opposed to one, you are better equipped to understand problems and devise solutions.

  1. Validate solutions and learning

There is no perfect solution. When implementing any change, focus on realistic, feasible options. This motivates you to make incremental improvements before moving on to larger ideas. Do not be afraid of starting small. Learn by taking action. This is validating your learning. You learn by doing. This is the foundation of the Japanese “Genchi Gembutsu,” which literally translates to “leaving the building.”

The Kaizen Principles for time management


These principles focus on completing projects quickly and with ease. Small improvements come when you identify long process and reduce the time required for completing tasks. Applying Kaizen means working on every workflow, activity and process to boost efficiency and productivity, while maximizing resources. This, in turn, promotes team motivation and engenders innovation and progress. Focus on significant details that will improve your workflow.

Beginner tips for implementing Kaizen


  • Top management need to work with junior staff to master Kaizen Principles for continuous improvement.
  • Encourage the workforce to generate innovative suggestions to improve operations.
  • Establish Kaizen plans that everyone can easily follow and implement.
  • Reward team members for idea generation and encourage suggestions for easy integration.

Kaizen Principles with time-tracking tools


Making small improvements requires effective planning. Yet, most companies, especially those with employees who work in shifts or remotely, have difficulty maintaining schedules and structures. TimeTrack Auto Scheduling offers an intuitive solution. Powered by an intelligent algorithm, the tool ensures error-free planning and options to personalize priorities based on skills, location and staff with fewer communication efforts.

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TimeTrack Auto Scheduling

Remember, Kaizen emphasizes gradual and continuous improvement as part of the organizational culture. This means seeing opportunities in every challenge and implementing positive changes for teamwork and a culture for business success.