Kaizen and continuous improvement

Kaizen is the Japanese approach and philosophy to continuously improve business by involving everything and everyone in it.


The world is always changing and we must evolve and adapt with it. Kaizen is a philosophy, a way of thinking, and a strategy to always keep changing, always improving. Never stop for looking for better ways of doing things and develop a mindset of continuous improvement.

18. July 2024 by Click insider / Blog

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Kaizen is more than a generic philosophy, but the key point is this:

Never stop for looking for better ways of doing things.

The concept is both a philosophy and an action plan bundled together.

It's a tool for lean production, improving standards and all aspects of business, and also an effective problem solving tool.

With kaizen you will develop a hyper-effective culture and mentality for continuous improvement.

Kai (=change) zen (=good) is a mindset, a way to achieve "good change". It can be applied in business, on a personal level and basically anywhere.

Implementation of kaizen strategies

Implementation of kaizen is worthy of a degree in itself, and impossible to cover in a few short paragraphs. Embedded with the kaizen philosophy are other ideas such as kanban, quality improvement, zero defects, JIT (just-in-time), automation, six sigma, robotics, Gemba, TPM, workplace discipline and more.

When you have a few of hours available, you could do a search for "kaizen" and the related topics. There are many YouTube videos covering the topic. Kaizen is not that hard to grasp, but implementing it in your business and life takes a continuous effort and practice.

Search for Toyota Kaizen, and you will find examples of implementation. Perhaps after seeing these examples you will feel like kaizen is only relevant for the assembly line and irrelevant for any other part of business. That could not be further from the truth. Kaizen is about improving everything in the business.

Kaizen, simplified

A simplified version of the kaizen philosophy:

Look around you, observe objects and processes. Ask yourself: What can I do to make it better? Then make it better. Observe the results and the effects of the changes, measure the improvements. What can I now do to make it even better? Keep on doing this, and never stop exploring improvement opportunities. Create a mindset of continuous improvement.

Kaizen is Not Perfection

Do not confuse kaizen with perfection. The goal of the latter is to achieve the perfect (the impossible), the goal of the former is simply to make things better. Perfection is a disease, and deals with unrealistic and unattainable goals, you will set yourself up for failure.

Iterative Good Change

Kaizen is all about iterative change, and adaptation. Whenever you come across errors and mistakes, look for solutions. Be proactive instead of reactive. Observe. Empower yourself and those around you, make everyone contribute towards the "good change".

Aim to learn the root cause of things and don't assume anything. Bu curious. Ask why, and then ask why again: Just like a child, explore the details and get to the root of things.

Be creative and reduce waste, find low-cost solutions and look for small improvements. Always improve.

Changing something just because it can be changed is pointless. There is no point in changing something if there is no reward.

The Kaizen Cycle

Kaizen is not a straight path, rather it is a cycle and something you will do over and over again.

Start by getting everyone involved. Let them give feedback so that you can identify problems. Then seek solutions to these problems. If more solutions are suggested, pick one and test it in your organization. Measure the effects and analyze the results. If you have achieved the "good change", then keep the change, and standardize the solution throughout your business. Do this over and over, iterate forever.

There are various interpretations of kaizen, but a typical step-by-step kaizen cycle for processes is PDCA:

  • Plan improvements. This includes setting goals as well.
  • Do actions required for improvement.
  • Check and measure results in contrast to your goals.
  • Act to adjust changes.

Begin by defining any standardized process and define all activities required for this process. This could be any repeatable activity within your organization or your personal life.

Then you must quantify the process. Measure all relevant and quantifiable aspects of the process: Spending, time, resources, requirements, and other variables.

Contrast the actual process with the desired result.

Seek improvement. Could similar results be achieved with less resources? Could better results be achieved by applying changes to the process? Come up with new ideas to improve the process.

Implement ideas for improvement. Define and standardize the process with these new ideas in mind.

Iterate. Repeat this cycle forever and apply the good change mindset everywhere.

Improve everyday, everywhere, and everybody

Imagine the results you could achieve if you could improve all aspects of your life and business continuously, without ever stopping.

Where would you be today if you applied the mindset of of continuous improvement one year ago? What would be different today in your personal life and in your business if you had adopted this mindset years ago? Visualize where will you be in one year from now if you adopt this mindset.

Apply the kaizen mindset right NOW and you will begin to notice results TODAY.

Even the smallest positive changes will contribute to overall improvement, and these things will accumulate.

On their own the effects might be unnoticable. But tiny improvements are often easy to implement and combined these changes will yield the most amazing result in your life and business.

Do not underestimate the power of compounding!

From this point forward, adapt a mindset that will let you:

  • improve everyday
  • improve everybody
  • improve everywhere

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