The 4 Types of Kaizen: Improving Business Processes for Success

Kaizen, a Japanese term meaning “continuous improvement,” goes beyond its basic translation. It is a culture and framework that empowers businesses to enhance their operational processes. By implementing various tools and specific types of Kaizen, organizations can achieve significant improvements. Let’s explore the four types of Kaizen methodologies and when to apply each one.

Kaizen Teian: Bottom-Up Improvement

Kaizen Teian embodies a bottom-up approach where individuals actively participate in improving their own processes. This type of Kaizen fosters a cultural transformation by encouraging everyone to think about improvement every day, everywhere. To create a continuous improvement culture in your organization, start with Kaizen Teian.

Kaizen Teian involves all members of the workforce, from leadership to frontline workers, in proposing changes to enhance workflow. Since those on the ground, the “gemba,” have firsthand experience, they are more likely to identify opportunities for process improvement.

To succeed in Kaizen Teian, focus on eliminating the eight forms of waste:

  1. Defects: Scrap or products requiring rework.
  2. Excess processing: Products repaired to meet customer needs.
  3. Overproduction: Producing more parts than customers demand.
  4. Waiting: Inaction in the manufacturing line.
  5. Inventory: Valuable products or materials waiting for processing or sale.
  6. Transportation: Moving products or materials and the associated costs.
  7. Motion: Excessive movement of people or machines, leading to wasted effort and time.
  8. Non-utilized talent: Failing to leverage the potential and experience of employees.

Kaizen Events: Defined Improvements

Unlike daily Kaizen, a Kaizen event focuses on specific process improvements developed within a short timeframe. These events are typically brief, focused projects involving the participation of both employees and management. By analyzing their Value Stream Map (VSM), teams can solve targeted problems that, when resolved, can lead to significant improvements in efficiency, quality, or performance.

It is crucial for Kaizen events to align with broader operational goals and processes to ensure a sustained impact.

Kaikaku: Radical Change

When incremental changes are insufficient, organizations turn to Kaikaku for radical process transformations. Unlike Kaizen, which focuses on improving existing processes, Kaikaku involves an entire organization shifting to an entirely new way of doing things. This could mean transitioning from manual to automated production or embarking on a digital transformation to foster workplace collaboration.

Hiroyuki Hirano, the creator of the 5S system, offers the Ten Commandments of Kaikaku:

  1. Throw out traditional manufacturing concepts.
  2. Focus on how the new method will work, not how it won’t.
  3. Reject excuses.
  4. Embrace change and start anew.
  5. Aim for implementation rather than perfection; a 50% implementation rate is acceptable if done promptly.
  6. Correct mistakes immediately.
  7. Prioritize problem-solving over spending money.
  8. View problems as opportunities for using your intellect.
  9. Ask “why” five times to discover root causes.
  10. Embrace collective intelligence; ideas from ten people are better than knowledge from one.

Once the radical transformation is complete, Kaizen’s continuous improvements are necessary for refinement.

Kakushin: Break-through Innovation

If Kaikaku is revolutionary, Kakushin is game-changing. Kakushin occurs when an organization adopts an entirely new way of doing something. It involves substantial breakthroughs that change the entire landscape of operations. For example, moving from manual to automated production is a form of Kaikaku, while switching to 3D printing would be a Kakushin innovation, requiring new skills from the workforce.

To accomplish Kakushin, management must challenge assumptions about why they conduct business in certain ways. This shift necessitates a cultural change and a commitment to new approaches. Brainstorming and analysis are vital tools in driving Kakushin.

Finding The Right Tool

While massive transformations may appear to be the most effective strategy for driving change within an organization, Kaizen serves as the foundation of any successful improvement program. After implementing a radical transformation, continuous improvement through daily Kaizen is necessary to fine-tune changes and address any new challenges that arise. Daily Kaizen ultimately leads to the next opportunity for a breakthrough shift.

For more information on Kaizen and related topics, visit Zenith City News.

Next Steps

Visit these articles for more information:

  • Kaizen vs. Innovation: Key Differences Between the Two
  • Planning and Running Kaizen Events
  • Kaikaku from KaizenWorld
  • Kaikaku from Graphic Products
  • Kaizen, Kaikaku, and Kakushin from the Benchmark 6 Sigma Forum

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