Improving Supervisory Skills with Kaizen
Successful companies employ Lean Supervisory Techniques like Kaizen to continually improve operations and profitability. You too can create a culture of Continual Improvement in your organization.
Continual improvement (Lean Kaizen) is a strategy developed in Japan where employees at all levels of a company work together to achieve regular, incremental and continual improvements to the company’s operations.
Kaizen is best known as a key component of the management philosophies behind Toyota’s incredible success in manufacturing cars. The main idea behind Lean Kaizen is that all employees in the company are actively engaged in finding ways to improve operations.
Many companies are still organized in a very top down manner where all ideas and knowledge have to come from the top and are merely to be implemented by the front liners. They are looking for that one-time-big-time innovation that will propel the company to massive success.
Kaizen oriented companies, on the other hand, recognize that radical improvements very difficult to achieve and, instead, they focus on improving in small steps continually. The idea is that small improvements, over a long period of time, will result in a great improvement.
“Little drops of water
Little grains of sand
Make the mighty ocean
And the beauteous land”
From the poem “Little Drops of Water” by Mrs. J. A. Carney (1845)
A Bottom Up View
The Lean Kaizen strategy also recognizes that it is the front line workers who have the first chance to notice and, in many cases, to ignore the problems and instead await further instructions. Of course, we have all experienced that problems are easier to correct if they are detected early. Damage will be less and corrective actions will also cost less.
Developing a Lean Kaizen Culture
Implementing Lean Kaizen requires developing a culture that has a sense of community and shared interests. The members recognize that the success of the individual depends on the success of the organization. Therefore, it makes sense to exert all effort towards the success of the organization.
Lean is a management philosophy that provides an ideal vehicle to develop a Lean Kaizen culture. It focuses improvement efforts to where they will have the biggest impact by identifying and removing waste in all the processes. Successfully implementing Lean requires that all members work together as a team and recognize that achieving the corporate goals is of greater importance than individual performance. While many companies have provide token lip service to team performance and team building, Lean Kaizen recognizes that best performance is a result of team effort.
The Principles of Lean and Kaizen
In their book “Lean Thinking”, James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones (1996) summarized the Lean Philosophy as:
- Provide the Value the Customer Requires
- Identify the Value Stream
- Flow the Work without Interruptions
- Pull according to the Customer’s need
- Pursue Perfection through Continual Improvement (Lean Kaizen)
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