Key features of Kaizen include:
- Improvements are based on many small changes rather than the radical changes that might arise from Research and Development
- As the ideas come from the workers themselves, they are less likely to be radically different, and therefore easier to implement
- Small improvements are less likely to require major capital investment than major process changes
- The ideas come from the talents of the existing workforce, as opposed to using research, consultants or equipment – any of which could be very expensive
- All employees should continually be seeking ways to improve their own performance
- It helps encourage workers to take ownership for their work, and can help reinforce team working, thereby improving worker motivation.
I was trying to remember the name of this technique when talking about change management with a colleague earlier. I like the idea of everyone being on the look-out, in an energetic, proactive way, for ways of improving how they do things — and I guess the first step in that might be to encourage people to moan about their jobs, to identify the parts of the process that feel unwieldy, unnecessary, over-complex — but I’m wondering if it’s not just change on the cheap, as those bulletpoints above from Wikipedia might imply.