Kaizen’s ultimate goal is to facilitate the completion of small changes and improvements generated through the ongoing efforts of all members of a business team

Kaizen’s ultimate goal is to facilitate the completion of small changes and improvements generated through the ongoing efforts of all members of a business team. A chain of these small but important refinements can generate big results, surpassing the outcome of the typical single large project tactic.

The goal of Kaizen is not to recreate or reinvent the fundamentals of the existing system, but to boost its productivity by making small but significant changes, not drastic ones. Managers at all levels encourage, and are involved in, the learning process. Continued scrutiny of how the current system works reveals and targets opportunities for change, and the implementation of those changes can improve the system’s process and potential. Adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs) helps maintain control, but once improvements are in place, SOPs will change to reflect the new work environment.

Although having little overlap in their scope, and typically not being considered as alternatives for each other, Lean and Six Sigma can both be effectively combined with Kaizen concepts. A business that needs to address quality concerns and variations, a business that needs to evaluate and enhance process flow and efficiency and minimize costly waste, would do well to consider integrating Kaizen with these two strategies.

Elements of Lean’s Manufacturing Process and Kaizen Projects are very similar. Each process contains such factors as a mission statement, distinct objectives, and set target goals. Both conform to the manufacturing process call PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) model. This model is ideal for project, which are planned for a short duration of time. Through this model project can be scheduled and completed with the goal of continual improvement and a reduction of waste. When used properly both manufacturing process models can increase productivity.

Unfortunately, though such projects often bring about changes, there is a downside.  They can result in root problems in a business not being analyzed as thoroughly as necessary to bring about optimal changes.  This is commonly due to the time span limitations placed on projects.   Integration of processes can prove quite useful here; quick changes and improvements can be accomplished through projects resulting in a sound addressing of problem areas based on collected data obtained with the flow of Six Sigma projects.

For instance, a project is undertaken by a bank which desires to increase the volume of walk-in customer sales. Using the tools of both processes, an analysis of a range of marketing methods along with their results can determine their effectiveness various customer demographics.  For set short periods of time, Kaizen projects can be undertaken in order to determine which method is better in a given situation.  Further implementation may follow for the method which is most effective.

And so, rather than limiting effectiveness by using only one tool, such as Kaizen, the utilization of all three processes is a more logical and efficient approach to solving problems within a business.  This combination of all three processes can continuously bring about profitable improvements.

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