The Japenese concent of Kaizen or “improvement” builds on the Introduction to Lean that Louise Blunt has covered previously on the BizSmart blog.
In this webinar, BizSmart Core Advisor Louise explores the ideas behind continuous improvement and the various tools businesses can use to benefit from this practice.
Continuous improvement is not about big changes all in one go. It’s about looking at the whole company and figuring out the best way to make the business more effective.
This will often involve looking at:
- Customer service
- Making better products
With lean principles, it is about everyone in the business. First and foremost is the customer, but it’s also about getting all of the staff involved.
When you are looking to solve problems in your business, the answers don’t lie solely with the management team, whatever size of company you have. It’s vital to respect and engage with everyone involved in the company so you can bring about positive change.
Another pitfall is the silo mentality. You need to look at individual areas, but also at the business as a whole.
Kaizen = Continuous Improvement
The Japanese philosophy of Kaizen is the process we go through to improve a business in small stages (though the word itself simply translates as “improvement”). It is the process of continuous improvement famously used by Japanese companies such as Toyota.
All of the above is a long-term approach – it’s not something to dip in and out of. But if you get everyone on board and ask everyone to suggest small improvements on an ongoing basis it’s a very powerful business tool.
It’s not just for struggling businesses
Commonly when businesses are struggling or aware of bottlenecks in their business, this is when they will bring someone in to look at processes and introduce this style of working.
And yet Kaizen works very well in companies who are already successful. It can help to avoid staleness or complacency.
Striving to make things better helps to keep your organisation at the top of its game.
It’s the same theory used by Olympic athletes. They are looking for the little changes they can make to improve their technique or fitness by 1%, rather than looking for massive gains. Doing this consistently is what puts them among the world’s elite athletes.
In business, you should be looking to do something every day. It may not happen every single day, but you need to go into work with the attitude that you are looking for one small thing to improve that day.
Whatever you’re doing, ask yourself if there’s a way to do it better.
BizSmart aims to help SME and micro-business owners scale their businesses and create value through sound practical business support. We aim to give you insight and clarity and fire up your determination to succeed. You can access blogs like this and more besides through our free SmartRoom service here.