is an integral part of a
culture of a Continuous
Improvement Firm (CIF).
effectively integrating Kaizen into corporate culture is not easy.
Top Management commitment and
leadership by example is absolutely necessary. If
managers don’t have time for Kaizen then neither will their employees.
Kaizen culture has to be central to the way your organization
works, not something to do if or when you have the time. It requires a
sustained effort. But, as
Toyota has demonstrated, Kaizen offers a more
sustained competitive advantage. It also fosters a
culture of learning and
experimentation without judgment and blame, with all workers understanding
that their opinions are important and useful to the overall system.
A Kaizen culture is set by example, is enabled
using a common method and is nurtured by recognizing achievements, and
building upon the resulting learning. Kaizen is something that everyone in
your organization can and should take part in, from the head of the
organization and the shareholders all the way down to the janitors.
Case in Point
The Unipart Group of companies in the UK makes
and distributes automotive components.
From the beginning the initiative aimed at
establishing a Kaizen culture in the group has been led
by the Chief Executive, who teaches regularly in the company university,
reviews progress on the shop floor of their many operations and attends
every one of their monthly recognition ceremonies.
Unipart created and
branded their Kaizen program, which encourages and facilitates
improvement across the group, using a common reporting methodology. They
also found and developed lean experts from within the group who could teach
and support all aspects of continuous improvement.
activity is entered into a group wide intranet database, searchable by
topic. This is an invaluable resource base enabling anyone in their widely
dispersed locations around the world to learn whether someone had already
found a solution to this or a similar problem. It also shows who solved the
problem, what tools they used and which internal experts taught them and how
they went about solving it.3