Kaizen is a Two Japanese terms which means, Kai – Change, and Zen – Good. Basically, Kaizen means Change for Good. The concept of Kaizen aims for an improvement that should be sustained for good. So generally, the concept of Kaizen is the conceptualization of continual improvement. Where nowadays, continual improvement is the most common purpose why organizations implement ISO Standards in their field, especially the Quality Management System which is the ISO9001 standards.
During the World War II the American soldiers had a main problem of defective armories and equipment that could lead them to insufficiency of the armory resources and could lead to their defeat during the war, due to lack of time to send back defective armories to base camp, the Americans decided to use their limited resources to somehow solve the problem with the minimum time and resources. They implement Training within Industry (TWI) which aims to train the soldiers and standardized their methods to the simplest yet productive approach which aims to have small achievement or improvement within their day work and in line of this, they also implement Small Group Activities (SGA) which aims to make everyone contribute on small achievements or improvements. These approach came down to improving their existing workforce and optimizing their existing resources to its maximum potentials.
After the World War II, General Douglas MacArthur, a commander of United States Army Forces in the Far East, was ordered to exercise authority through the Japanese government which resulted to a special relationship with the Japanese Emperor. MacArthur ordered his staff "in the interests of peaceful occupation and rehabilitation of Japan, prevention of revolution and communism”. The American occupation forces brought in experts to help rebuilding Japanese industry, The Economic and Scientific Section (ESS) group was tasked with improving the Japanese management skills using TWI approach. General Douglas MacArthur recruited Homer Sarasohn to re-establish the Japanese electronics industry. Homer Sarasohn is an American engineer who initiated the quality control standards for which Japan's electronic industry became known. Sarasohn then recommended William Edwards Deming to continue the campaign of quality that they began.
William Edwards Deming is an American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant. He developed the sampling techniques, statistical process control, and the very popular PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act).
During the execution of ESS, Demings established a 10-hour training film to introduce the TWI’s Three J’s programs:
- Job instruction (1)
- Job Description (2)
- Job relation or interaction (3)
Together with the use of Demings’ PDCA which they call:
- Program Development (4)
The training film was entitled”Kaizen Eno Yon Dankai” which in English means “Improvement in Four Steps”.
With the success of this training program, Japan Emperor awarded the “Order of the Sacred Treasure” to Dr. Deming.
Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) instituted the annual “Deming Prizes” for achievement in quality and dependability of products to acknowledge Demings’ contribution on quality promotion in Japan.
The Deming Prize is the longest-running and one of the highest awards on TQM (Total Quality Management) in the world.
After the World War II, Japan experienced extreme economic difficulty. Toyota was one of the most affected industrial company during that time. Kiichiro Toyoda, the son of Toyota's founding father Sakichi Toyoda, has a good relation to the father of Taiichi Ohno. Taiichi Ohno was a Japanese industrial engineer and businessman hired by Toyota to facilitate improvements, who adapt the approach of Deming’s TWI for Total Quality Management (TQM). He then established the Toyota Production System with the objective of having the “Highest Quality, Lowest Cost, and Shortest Lead Time” which is the most popular objectives of Kaizen concept. Ohno’s implementation focuses on:
- Eliminating wastes.
- Operate with the minimum resources that will consistently deliver what is only required.
- The need of automation.
Now, Toyota Production System is one of the primary benchmark of other organization to follow in terms of controlling product quality and productivity.
The Kaizen implementation begins by knowing the small inefficiencies of something and bridging those small inefficiencies to enhance the output. By doing this regularly with the use of proper controls, monitoring and evaluation, those small enhancements can lead to sustained improvements and that will result to better quality, cost savings and shortest lead time possible, or simply saying to better efficiency.
Efficiency is the ratio of the planned or theoretical expectations versus the actual implementation. When the requirements of these planned arrangements or expectations are not met during the implementation, we can say that the efficiency ratio is low. In order to achieve a higher efficiency ratio, proper monitoring and evaluations of the implementation controls to meet the requirement shall be provided, this shall include the considerations of:
- Provision of minimum yet effective resources.
- Eliminating wastes or nonconformance.
- Standardization of methods and processes.
- Establishing controls and checkpoints.
- Monitoring and evaluations.
The implementation of Kaizen concept is very flexible that any organization who needs improvement can execute it as per the methodology that will suit their improvement needs and could be up to the level of their capacity. The level of continual improvement achieved is always dependent on the combined efforts, involvement, and cooperation of all stakeholders needed in promoting improvement.
These days, Kaizen concept is commonly used by all types of industries all over the world to balance the achievement of the maximum Customer Satisfaction yet having the maximum profitability of their organization.