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Kaizen - the Philosophy of Continual Progress

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Dreaus
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The philosophy of continual progress

Course - Quality Assurance
Instructor – XXXX
Due – Nov 30

Kaizen essay
Introduction to Kaizen

The word kaizen is the combination of two Japanese words. The word ‘Kai’ meaning ‘to do’ or ‘change’ and the word ‘Zen’ meaning ‘well’ This way of thinking is not only used in the field of manufacturing, engineering and business management but also in everyday life in Japan. This philosophy promotes gradual and continual progress and an increase in self-worth and total involvement in everything you do.
The word Kaizen (To make better or continuous improvement) can easily be misspelled as Kaizan (To cook the books or alter or fake a document). Most professionals in the field could benefit with a careful study of the differences.
Kaizen is a process that when applied daily eliminates overly hard work (Muri) and humanizes the workplace. The kaizen methodology basically involves making changes and monitoring the results, then adjusting. It also encourages employees to experiment on how to eliminate waste in the business process to increase productivity.
Employees at all levels of an organization are expected to participate in ‘Kaizen’. From the CEO all the way down to the janitorial staff. The kaizen philosophy can be implemented by the individual but can also be applied as a group system. At Toyota, kaizen is generally implemented within workstations and is focused on improving the work environment and productivity.
When implemented today, it is often only addressed to one particular issue over a short period of time. This is referred to as a “Kaizen blitz” or “Kaizen event”. The results of such events are later used in future blitzes.

At the end of World war two, part of America’s contribution to the restoration of Japan was to bring in American experts to help in the rebuilding of Japanese industry. These experts brought with them statistical control methods from America and implemented the TWI (Training Within Industry) programs. These TWI methods consisted of three separate programs. Job instructions (standard work) job methods (process improvements) and Job Relations. Lowell Mellen, with the help of Edgar McVoy was instrumental in the proper installation of these programs.
The Civil Communications Section (CCS) was established in 1949 and helped develop a management training program that taught statistical control methods. This program was developed by Charles Protzman and Homer Sarasohn and was further refined by W. Edwards Deming.
For all his work with the implementation of “Kaizen” to Japan, Emperor Hirohito awarded Dr. Deming the 2nd Order Medal of the Sacred Treasure in 1960. Ever since, the Union of Japanese Science and engineering (JUSE) have been awarding the annual Deming Prizes for achievement in product quality and dependability.

Some of the techniques used in the Kaizen process

The PDCA Cycle
The PDCA cycle, also known as the Deming cycle or Shewhart cycle is a 4 step model for carrying out change. The 4 steps are Plan, Do, Check, Act. They call this a cycle because just as a circle has no end, the cycle is to be repeated over and over again to provide continuous improvements. The 5s System

The 5s’s are a system in which employee organization produces a more productive and safer work environment.
The 5 s’s are 1. Sort (Seiri) – Sorting through all the materials in the workplace, keeping the essentials and discarding the non-essentials 2. Straighten (Seiton) – “A place for everything and everything in its place” Having a specific place for everything and keeping those things in their place will provide a safe and effective work environment as well as providing an efficient work flow. 3. Shine (Seiso) – Workplace cleanliness. An employee’s work area should be kept clean after every shift and should be part of everyone’s daily routine. 4. Standardizing (Seiketsu) – Having every worker aware of their responsibilities and making it easy to maintain. 5. Sustain (Shitsuke) – The maintaining of standards set and making sure one does not decline back to bad habits.

Muda (7 kinds of productivity loss)

Muda is the Japanese word for waste, or wastefulness. It can be attributed to anything from over production to an inefficient way of processing.
The Seven wastes are as follows 1. Transportation – The loss attributed to things like damaged, lost or delayed shipments. 2. Inventory – Items sitting in the warehouse, not actively generating income is considered a waste. 3. Motion – Refers to the wear-and-tear inflicted to man or machine during production or accidents. 4. Waiting – Stationary goods are categorized as waiting. Waiting goods are not generating income. 5. Over-processing – The making of an item that is too complex or expensive than is required by the customer. 6. Over-production – Is simply the making of more stock than you can sell. This will also lead to excess costs due to storage. 7. Defects – The cost incurred from having to remake or fix a defective item.

Gemba is the Japanese word for “the real place”. Gemba refers to the workplace or anywhere products are manufactured. The basic idea behind Gemba is if there is a problem somewhere, you need to go to where that problem is and try to understand the reason behind it so you can come up with an effective solution to ensure that problem does not happen again.
There are 5 basic principles 1. When an abnormality happens, go to Gemba first
This is the first and most important principle. When a problem is detected, the best solution is to go to Gemba (the origin of the problem) at once, and try to find a solution. 2. Check with gembutsu
Gembutsu means a tangible asset. Gembutsu or “problem area” can be either a piece of machinery or a customer or consumer. If there is a breakdown with the Gembutsu, the supervisor needs to go to the site of the problem and deal with it at once. 3. Take temporary countermeasures on the spot.
The supervisor is expected to take actions to mitigate the problem, even though they might not address the real issue. 4. Find out the root cause.
The supervisor is expected to find the root cause of the problem. 5. Standardize for prevention of recurrence
Once the supervisor has identified the root cause, and comes up with a countermeasure, they should standardize such a countermeasure so that the same problem will not reoccur.

The Kaizen philosophy, when applied to dedicated management and employees can bring a whole organization together as one. The process of continuous improvement through personal ownership of actions can be a very powerful tool. To have every member of the workforce take responsibility for improving their little part of the larger puzzle, can be the difference between a good company and a thriving one. This philosophy can be applied to any size organization with any size workforce.


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