Lean Tool Kaizen creates Continuous Improvement Culture

Lean tool Kaizen creates Continuous Improvement Culture in the Organization. Let’s see how, but first understand about Continuous Improvement.

Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve products, services or processes.


Continuous Improvement means “MAKE THINGS BETTER”.


Improvement is a continuous process. Every process or service does not always remain perfect. With time, process or service require an improvement. There is always scope of improvement in any process, or service.


There are many ways to bring the improvement in process or service and bring continuous improvement culture –


  • Six Sigma Breakthrough Improvement in process or service by reduction in variation.


  • Kaizen Small Incremental change for Improvement. Kaizen philosophy was developed by Masaki Imai and is an important Lean tool.





Kaizen comes from two Japanese words: Kai (Change) & Zen (Good).  

Over time, it became widely known as “continuous improvement.”

Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that focuses on continual improvement throughout all aspects of life. Kaizen focuses on applying small, daily changes that results in major improvements over time.


Kaizen Focuses on –

  • Productivity – Improving Cycle time, reducing down time etc.
  • Safety – Decreasing hazardous situations, unsafe working conditions and mores
  • Quality – Examples could be Bettering products, service, work environment, practice and processes.
  • Delivery – Cutting delivery time, movement and non-value-added activities.
  • Cost – Reducing expenses and manpower, and use of material, energy and resources.

In short,

Productivity,Safety, Quality, Delivery & Cost known as “PSQDC”.


Types of Wastes improved by KAIZEN:

In LEAN methodology, improvement in process or service by elimination of wastes. Therefore, what are the wastes?

There are seven types of Wastes, if eliminated, will lead to culture of continuous improvement.

In short, Seven (7) Wastages called  – “TIMWOOD”.


Kaizen can be done by “Reduction” or “Elimination” or “Change” of these wastes. 

How does Kaizen Work?

Kaizen works on “PDCA Cycle”.


There are various ways of implementing kaizen –


  • Small problems can be solved by implementing simple actions / Kaizens.


Examples: Labelling of box, visual display, sign boards, elimination of non-value-added activities, modification in formats etc.


Let’s try to understand with some examples –

Problem # 1:

Operator takes more time to find

out relevant switches.

Identified Waste:


Solution: Label switch with proper label.
 Switch board  Labelled Switch

RESULT – By puttinglabels on switches, problem is resolved . We have SIMPLIFiED the usage of switches.


Problem # 2:

During breakdown, it takes more to find relevant wire leads that have lead to fault.

Identified Waste:

  • Waiting
  • Motion of operator
Solution: Label wires with proper label.


Wires with identification

RESULT – The addition of labels on wires, leadS to REDUCTION in maintenance time.
Above examples were quite straight-forward and such changes can be made at individual level , but then there are sometimes, complex problems to be deal t with. Complex problems usually require team work and planning.

Here the Steps for kaizen implementation for Complex problems 

  • Define problem – Describe the problem in detail. You may use 5W2H
  • Do Brainstorming, bring ideas to resolve issue and filter best solution for the issue.
  • Identify and evaluate what kind of waste can be reduce or eliminate or simplify.
  • Implement the solution identified, standardized and check the effectiveness.

Example –

Problem Description: It takes too much time to locate items in the Maintenance Spare parts area.

Team formation –

Form a team of 2 -3 person who involved in spare parts activities.

Identify Success Criteria –

Establish success criteria of spare parts activities. These could be :

  • Minimum time to identify and provide spare part.
  • Reduce transportation.
  • Prevent damage of spare parts 

Generate Improvement Ideas:

The team brainstorm and identified improvement ideas in the form of kaizen either by-

  • Reduction
  • Elimination  
  • Change


Kaizen # 1 –

Marking location with yellow colour for identification of location of spare parts racks.


Kaizen # 2 –

Prepare a list of spare lists as per consumption and keep maximum consumption spare parts in nearby location and minimum consumption spare part at away location.

Kaizen # 3 –

Standardize the spare part box as per requirement which also prevents damage of spare parts.

Kaizen # 4 – 

Color Coding of racks as per easy identification of spare parts.

Check Effectiveness:

Check effectiveness of implemented kaizen by measuring –

  • Stock of spare part list.
  • Time to deliver spare parts.
  • Comparison of count of damage spare parts in standard and non-standard spare parts.


Benefits of Kaizen –

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved quality
  • Better safety
  • Lower costs
  • Improved customer satisfaction


All these improvements bring a culture of continuous improvement in organization. 

  • Once part of Continous Improvement Culture, people start getting involved in various activities, take ownership of related area and start thinking about how to improve their own area and how to make process or work easier.
  • It brings improved communication between employees and management.
  • It brings employees satisfactory.


Management in return provides rewards & recognition to employees for their valuable inputs and bring improve quality, and safety which is beneficial for the organisation.


Culture of continuous improvement brings together employees and management and brings committment to take organization to next level.


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