Kaizen literally means ‘change’ (kai) ‘to be good’ (zen), and refers to a philosophy based around the concept of continuous incremental improvement.
In business the term usually refers to a management system which adopts this philosophy of continuous incremental improvement in a manufacturing environment.
The main aim of using the kaizen tools is to continually improve the manufacturing process through the identification and elimination of waste. In order to do this for each work process a series of kaizen steps are adopted along the following lines.
- Observe the process
- Find areas of waste
- Measure the waste
- Form ideas as to how the waste can be eliminated
- Make improvements to the process
- Measure the effectiveness of the improvement
- Share successful ideas across the business
At each stage in the method all employees involved in the process and those employees who are affected by the improvements in the process, are consulted and their ideas and concerns about the changes addressed.
For further information see the Wikipedia Kaizan definition.
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