Toyota... Sony... Mitsubishi. What do these names bring to your mind? You might say "innovation" or "dedication" and you would be spot on. However, they are also known for something a little less conspicuous- EFFICIENCY. It's no secret that the Japanese know how to run a business. They also know that within a business, there are areas that often get clogged up and become inefficient, causing productivity to suffer. To combat this, they utilize a strategy that helps remove waste and makes things more productive. It is called Kaizen. When there is a short focus on a specific area to increase efficiency, it is called a Kaizen Blitz. These tend to last for a week or so and help to remove wasted energy by the employees as well as management.
In a Kaizen Blitz, all levels of the company are involved. This ranges from the lowly janitor, all the way up to the CEOs. Although the improvements made through a Kaizen event are often small, the results can generate big dividends. To begin the process, a supervisor is often given the task of implementing and overseeing the improvements. Many times, this focus is in just one area of the business. It might even be just one work station. This can create a rippling effect and spread to the other workstations nearby. Once the blitz has been performed, there is daily monitoring to ensure that the area of focus remains as efficient as possible.
Kaizen is an ongoing mindset that helps bring harmony and productivity to a business or organization. The thing that kills a business is the unwillingness of its members to embrace change. We get set in our ways and don't want to "learn new tricks." Kaizen events are becoming more and more popular in the western world and deserve a chance to be welcomed. Only by looking in the mirror will we discover that our appearance is in disarray.