Overview[ edit ] The Japanese word kaizen means "change for better", with inherent meaning of either "continuous" or "philosophy" in Japanese dictionaries and in everyday use. The word refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small, in the same sense as the English word " improvement ". The discussion below focuses on such interpretations of the word, as frequently used in the context of modern management discussions.
Here's the definition from the New Oxford American Dictionary: That sometimes gets further embellished by eager writers who extend kaizen to carry continuous improvement out of the business realm, and "throughout all Toyota philosophy of kaizen of life", per one definition I've seen.
Whatever the specifics, what you'll find in common across all definitions is that kaizen is a Japanese word for "a Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement". What's it really mean? Jump down to "The wrap" at the end of this article if you want the quick low-down. Otherwise, here's the full story, starting with the real meaning of the Japanese word kaizen from the Shogakukan Dictionary: The act of making bad points better.
In any case, dictionaries from Sanseido and Oubunsha, as well as the massive and authoritative Koujien, give an identical definition, which points to a one-word, spot-on English translation: Indeed, Japanese-English dictionaries, such as the Progressive or Sanseido dictionaries, translate kaizen into English using the single word "improvement".
Not continuous Note what's missing in the Japanese definition: The word has the same mundane meaning of "improvement" in all of these languages. This kaizen is improvement one time or a million times, momentarily or continuously; it doesn't matter.
Contrary to modern mythology, there is no meaning of "continuous" built into kaizen. That said, one certainly can perform kaizen on a continuous basis, and that's what happened in Japan, right?
Well, sure, some firms and sectors of industry in Japan have made an excellent practice of continuous improvement, creating effective management systems to generate, capture, and review improvements in never-ending cycles.
Toyota is the best-known example.
After all, isn't "kaizen" the very name of that company's game-changing management methods? Toyota's overall system of techniques for production management goes by the prosaic name Toyota Production System Toyota seisan houshiki.
The system rests upon a number of core principles, one of which is indeed labeled kaizen - which for purposes of Toyota's usage or generally, any manufacturing usage certainly does mean continuous improvement.
My point is this: In the same way, another principle of the Toyota Production System, jidouka automationlogically implies continuous automation.
Likewise, your resolution to get more exercise logically implies continuous efforts to do so, not a single set of push-ups. Yet those logical implications don't make "continuous" an integral part of the definitions of "automation" or "exercise".
So if "continuous" isn't part of the definition of kaizen, why would Toyota choose the word to wrap up its goals and processes aimed at continuous improvement?
Kaizen and the Art of Toyota Production There's one story that's often called upon to exemplify the work philosophy of kaizen. The Toyota Production System is the stuff of legends in certain circles — an ever-improving juggernaut that eliminates waste at every level. The philosophy of kaizen is one of Toyota’s core values. It means ‘ continuous improvement ’. No process can ever be declared perfect but it can always be improved. The kaizen perfectly describes the principle of continuous improvement of the system. The kaizen is the principle of empowerment of the teams to define standard durations of production and to divide up the diverse manufacturing operations of a product, in order to work more effectively and faster.
Because for a short single-word name, kaizen is the only real choice - as there is no magical Japanese word for "continuous improvement". Not Japanese Moving along: Whether continuous or not, what's Japanese about "improvement"? It feels silly to have to point this out, but companies, organizations, and people everywhere engage in improvement, in all areas of human endeavor.
From the wheel to the jumbo jet, from superstition to science, from warring tribes to democracies, it's all improvement, little by little, never ending. Continuous improvement is integral to all of human history, past and future.
Japan included, of course. Some of its industrial kaizen has been really spectacular, such as the improvements Japanese automakers effected in their products. Endeavors in other sectors in Japan, such as hospital practices and efficiency in the construction and certain retail sectors to toss out a couple of exampleshaven't been so swift with the kaizen and are the envy of no one.
The point is that there is not, and cannot be, anything "Japanese" about concepts as universally human as "improvement" or "continuous improvement". The closest you could get with a Japan-centric tack is specifying kaizen in the context of specific industrial management techniques advanced in Japan and labeled with the word.Kaizen is one of the core principles of The Toyota Production System, a quest for continuous improvement and a single word that sums up Toyota’s ‘Always a Better Way’ slogan.
Kaizen (English: Continuous improvement): A philosophy that helps to ensure maximum quality, the elimination of waste, and improvements in efficiency, both in . The philosophy of kaizen is one of Toyota’s core values.
It means ‘continuous improvement’.No process can ever be declared perfect but it can always be improved. Kaizen in practice means that all team members in all parts of the organisation are continuously looking for ways to improve operations, and people at every level in the company support this process of improvement.
The kaizen perfectly describes the principle of continuous improvement of the system. The kaizen is the principle of empowerment of the teams to define standard durations of production and to divide up the diverse manufacturing operations of a product, in order to work more effectively and faster.
The Toyota Way is a set of principles and behaviors that underlie the Toyota Motor Corporation's managerial approach and production system. Toyota first summed up its philosophy, values and manufacturing ideals in , calling it "The Toyota Way ".
The two pillars of the Toyota way of doing things are kaizen (the philosophy of continuous improvement) and respect and empowerment for people, particularly . Kaizen(continuous improvement) activities based on the Toyota Production System(USA) Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC) The Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC) was founded in Lexington (now located in Erlanger), Kentucky, in with "contributing to society by sharing Toyota Production System (TPS) and help improve North American industries," especially .