Kaizen Environment - the environment for continuous improvement


By

Dr. Parimalendu Bandyopadhyay
Mr. Gunamoy Hazra
Mr. Kajal Goswami
Lecturer
B.B. College
Asansol
 


Introduction

Kaizen is the Japanese word. It consists two separate words namely 'kai' and 'zen'. 'Kai' means change while 'zen' stands for better. So, kaizen refers nothing else but 'change for better' i.e. continuous improvement. Broadly, it means continuous improvement with the involvement of everyone in the organization so as to generate value for customers. Though, here kaizen is referred to as a Japanese technique, it has, however originated in India, which conveys the message 'little drops of water make the ocean'. It is basically based on the belief that there will be no progress if you keep on doing things exactly the same way all the time. Kaizen focuses upon process oriented thinking as opposed to result oriented thinking. The message of kaizen environment is that not a day should go by without some kind of improvement being made somewhere in the organization.

Rules

The rules should be remembered while implementing the concept of kaizen. These are:

  • List down your own problems.
  • Grade your problems as to minor, difficult and major.
  • Select the smallest minor problem and start with it. After tackling this, move on to next graded problem and so on.
  • Know and always remember, improvement is a part of daily routine.
  • Never accept status que.
  • Never reject any idea before trying it.
  • Share the experiments with colleagues.
  • Eliminate already tried but failed experiments, while sharing the problems with your colleagues.
  • Never hide problems, always highlight them.

Traditional Environment Vs Kaizen Environment

There is a vast difference in the approach of kaizen environment as compared to our Indian traditional environment in any organization. The main differences in the approach are presented below:

Approach to                           Traditional Environment        Kaizen Environment

Attitude                                 Let it go                                Continuous improvement
Employees                              Cost                                     Asset
Information                             Restricted                              Shared
Interpersonal Relationship          Commercial                             Human
Management belief                   Routine                                  Change
Management culture                 Bureaucratic                           Participative
Management function               Control                                  Supportive
Management stress                  Functional                              Cross functional

Methodology in Implementation of kaizen environment

The following procedure should be followed for implementation of kaizen environment in the organization.

  • The group size should be formed as small between 6 to 12 numbers and the equal level of the personnel within the organization. Allot the numbers to all kaizen groups, kaizen No.1, kaizen No.2 etc.
  • Appoint a senior level person as an Evaluator to each group, above the level of participants in the kaizen group.
  • Conduct Group's meeting at regular interval, i.e. at least once in a week, preferably having a fixed schedule for next 6 to 12 months time.
  • Submit the progress report of improvement in writing in a Kaizen Form, as clearly as possible and cater the copies of same to every member of the group, at least one day in advance of the scheduled meeting.
  • Let everyone speak out about his own improvement. If no improvement made, let him say so to all participants and then sit in his chair. Allow about 3 to 5 minutes to make some improvement during the last week.
  • While a member is speaking, all other group members including evaluator should only listen him carefully. No comments are passed. However, a clarification, if necessary, may be sought instantly.

Benefits of kaizen environment

There are so many tangible and intangible benefits can be made available to the organization for proper implementation of kaizen system. These are:

1) Tangible Benefits: Sum total of small improvements contributed by each and every of employees of the organization can result in a big pile of improvements viz. reduced time/rejection, energy consumption saving,etc.along with improved quality.

2) Tangible Benefits:  There are so many intangible benefits; an organization may have through developing participative culture.

    • It can be a single motivating factor for individual employees because the stress is on number of small step improvements. So they take pride in increasing this number.
    • It is virtually risk-free because these are small step improvements calling for very negligible investments.
    • It results in better team work due to certain principles of spiral thinking involved in basic philosophy.
    • With increased emphasis on waste elimination it gives the employees a sense of belongings, togetherness and accomplishment towards organization while building a culture of loyalty.
    • Giving more importance on every saving it helps the society as a whole in conserving improvement resources like, electricity, fuel etc.
    • It helps to change in attitude or moral of work force from hostile to loyal, from destructive to constructive.

Reasons for failure of kaizen

It has been observed that with the application of kaizen environment most of the organization has produced dramatic results and substantial improvements, still it was surprised to notice that some had failed. While analyzing the causes of the failure of the established kaizen system, the following major reasons have been detected:

  • Top management may not support it.
  • Workers are not properly motivated.
  • Participants are not properly trained to improve their listening skills, presentation skills, communication skills etc.moreover the efforts of failure by the group members are criticized.
  • 'Improvements are a part of daily routine' --- this basic concepts are ignored.
  • Participants are always found with lot of work pressure, especially at the time of year end, handling the crisis situation etc. resulting sidelining the kaizen at all.

Reference

Ravi.M.Kishore   ----Cost & Management Accounting, 4th edition, Taxmann's, New Delhi.

Dr.C.B.Gupta   ----- Human Resource Management, 6th edition, Sultan Chand & sons, New Delhi.
 


Dr. Parimalendu Bandyopadhyay
Mr. Gunamoy Hazra
Mr. Kajal Goswami
Lecturer
B.B. College
Asansol
 

Source: E-mail January 2, 2008

          

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