Vadim Kotelnikov    

Kaizen Case Studies 

The Japanese Strategy of Continuous Improvement


Business e-Coach     




Kaizen Contiuous Improvement Firm Top Management Innovation Kaizen Innovation Kaizen Sustainable Competitive Advantage of US and Japanese Firms Continuous Improvement Firm

"Japanese management practices succeed simply because they are good management practices. This success has little to do with cultural factors. And the lack of cultural bias means that these practices can be – and are – just as successfully employed elsewhere."

~ Masaaki Imai  >>>


Kaizen - Japanese Continuous Improvement Strategy

The Key Kaizen Practices

Continuous Improvement Culture

Production Process

Two Parts of Kaizen Management

  Cross-functional Management

  Policy Deployment

7 Goals of the Japanese Suggestion System

  1. Making the job easier

  2. Removing drudgery from the job

  3. Removing nuisance from the job

  4. Making the job safer

  5. Making the job more productive

  6. Improving product quality

  7. Saving time and cost... More

Quick and Easy Kaizen

3 Key Characteristics

  Permanent method changes. Change the method. Once the change is made, you can’t go back to the old way of doing things... More

Kaizen and Kaikaku

  • Kaizen is evolutionary, focused on incremental improvements.

  • Kaikaku is revolutionary, focused on radical improvements

10 Kaikaku Tips

Balanced Organization: 5 Basic Elements

Performance Management (Water):

Suggestion systems involve all employees in continuous efficiency improvement... More

The Toyota Way: 14 Principles

Example of a Truly Lean Value Chain

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen means "improvement". Kaizen strategy calls for never-ending efforts for improvement involving everyone in the organization – managers and workers alike. 

Kaizen and Management

Management has two major components:

1. maintenance, and

2. improvement.

The objective of the maintenance function is to maintain current technological, managerial, and operating standards. The improvement function is aimed at improving current standards.

Under the maintenance function, the management must first establish policies, rules, directives and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and then work towards ensuring that everybody follows SOP. The latter is achieved through a combination of discipline and human resource development measures.

Under the improvement function, management works continuously towards revising the current standards, once they have been mastered, and establishing higher ones. Improvement can be broken down between innovation and Kaizen. Innovation involves a drastic improvement in the existing process and requires large investments and big efforts. Kaizen signifies small improvements as a result of coordinated continuous efforts by all employees.



Kaizen and Corporate Culture

Kaizen is an integral part of corporate culture of a Continuous Improvement Firm (CIF). It requires continuous both conscious and sub-conscious thinking about improvements from everyone. Nurturing and effectively integrating Kaizen into corporate culture is not easy. It requires a sustained effort. But, as Toyota has demonstrated, it offers a more sustained competitive advantage... More

Kaizen and Lean Manufacturing

Lean Enterprise: Kore 10 Tips

Kaizen is the heart of Lean Manufacturing (also known as the Toyota Production System). Toyota states: "...based on the concept of continuous improvement, or Kaizen, every Toyota team member is empowered with the ability to improve their work environment. This includes everything from quality and safety to the environment and productivity. Improvements and suggestions by team members are the cornerstone of Toyota's success."

Process-Oriented Thinking vs. Result-Oriented Thinking

Kaizen concentrates at improving the process rather than at achieving certain results. Such managerial attitudes and process thinking make a major difference in how an organization masters change and achieves improvements.



Employee Empowerment: the Suggestion System

The suggestion system is an integral part of an established management system that aims at involving employees in Kaizen. The number of worker's suggestions is regarded as an important criteria in reviewing the performance of the worker's supervisor and the manager of the supervisor.

The Japanese management encourages employees to generate a great number of suggestions and works hard to consider and implement these suggestions, often incorporating them into the overall Kaizen strategy. Management also gives due recognition to employee's efforts for improvement. An important aspect of the suggestion system is that each suggestion, once implemented, leads to an upgraded standard. Quality control (QC) circles can be viewed as a group-oriented suggestion system for making improvements. QC circle is a small group that voluntarily performs quality-control activities in the workplace.

Areas Targeted by TQM in Japan

Total quality control (TQC) involves everyone in the organization and is aimed at improvement of managerial performance at all levels... More



Case Studies Tôhoku Oki Electric Co.

At Tôhoku Oki Electric Co., the suggestion system is the center of their success and leads all of their improvement efforts. The company gets 570 suggestions per employee per year (app. 1.5 written ideas per employee per workday)... More






Kaizen Culture

8 Elements    3 Pillars    Japan vs. West

Kaizen Mindset    Kaizen and Innovation

Kaizen and Kaikaku >> 10 Kaikaku Commandments

Lean Production

Kore 10 Tips

3 Broad Types of Waste    7 Wastes    5S    Just-in-Time (JIT)

Efficiency Improvement

Manufacturing Strategies Used by US and Japanese Companies

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Kaizen and Total Quality Management (TQM)

TQM Practices: Japan vs. the West    Customer-focused TQM

Areas Targeted by TQM in Japan

Process-managed Enterprise

Process Thinking


Kaizen    CIF    JIT    Japanese-style Suggestion System

Toyota Production System (TPS)    Canon    Fidelity Investments

Toyota Problem Solving Techniques >> 5-Why Technique

14 TQM Slogans at Pentel, Japan

Bunsha: A Japanese Spin Off Concept for Business Growth

Soichiro Honda quotes

After materials are carried into the factory, nothing but products

should be carried out from it.  >>>

Soichiro Honda


Edward Deming advice quotes

The job can't be finished
only improved
to please the customer.

Edward Deming

Thought Leader

Henry Ford advice

The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.

Henry Ford

Ford Moror