KAIZEN™ in Operations 

KAIZEN™ in Operations 

After the onset of the current crisis, Kaizen Institute we at Kaizen Institute spoke to several of our client organizations across the globe - including in South Asian and African regions. Through their input into the most pressing challenges facing organizations now we at Kaizen Institute have developed an improvement strategy – a Business Model with 15 key initiatives among 3 pillars: 

KAIZEN™ in Crisis Management 

KAIZEN™ in Organization Strategy 

KAIZEN™ in Operations 

Here we focus on the Third Pillar – KAIZEN™ in Operations.   

KAIZEN™ in Operations: 

Here, the focus is on what organizations could do to gain a competitive advantage during the crisis and emerge stronger in the post-crisis landscape.  

KAIZEN™ (KAI=change, ZEN=For the Better) can be defined as “Continual improvement involving EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE and every day".

KAIZEN™ thinking and techniques are used by organizations to improve every facet of their operations and reduce costs, increase sales, improve responsiveness to customer demand, and reduce inventory.

KAIZEN™ aims for improvements in productivity, effectiveness, safety, customer satisfaction by eliminating waste; and the organizations that have followed this approach often find a whole lot more in return. Kaizen thinking has contributed to many incremental innovations in enterprises through freeing up capacity of production as well as promoting continuous improvement culture. 

KAIZEN™ methods are applicable not only to manufacturing; they can be used to improve operational efficiency in a variety of sectors, including Streamlining administrative workflow, Integrating databases, Backend office operations, Business management, etc. It helps in dealing with three change problems: managing fear, helping yourself change and helping others change.  

This pandemic and the current crisis has made the manufacturing companies plan for agile and Lean manufacturing processes as they prepare for a volatile demand environment. It is often said that “An economic slowdown can be a good time to challenge status quo” and “Every Crisis ought to be considered as an opportunity”. In tough times employees are often open to change and eager to help. Hence a basic level of trust between employers and workers is a must for KAIZEN™ to succeed. 

It is necessary to provide 3 basic conditions for KAIZEN™ to take place. These are –  

• Improving human resources: Human resources are the most valuable asset in any organization. Every employee should be part of continuous improvement activities. Employees should be supported with in-house training to provide problem-solving and the results should be standardized to avoid encountering the problem after the problem is solved (Sustenance). 

• Finding the current situation inadequate:
There many areas to be developed even in the most well-functioning system. No system is completely perfect. The system should be developed daily with small and frequent steps. 

• Using problem-solving techniques in a widespread way:
Determined problems need to solve to make improvements. Some tools and techniques need to be used to solve these problems. In this context, these are effective problem-solving techniques which expressed as basic statistical quality tools used in problem-solving – such as Check sheets, Flow diagrams, Histograms, Pareto diagrams, Scatter diagrams, Cause and Effect diagrams and Control charts. 

Exploring shift in the Operating Paradigms pertaining to Operations, Improving/ Modifying the Standards, Improving Productivity, Supply Chain & Distribution, and improving the effectiveness of support processes are the key areas that will be a focus of this pillar.  

Layout re-design for Social Distancing:
Social distancing would be the new norm, post-Covid crisis. Accordingly, the Cell layout must be redesigned after revising Yamazumi (Line balancing) and Shojinka (Flexible manpower planning). With changing demand, the line must be redesigned for variable manpower and variable demand (flexible lines or agile cells). Needless to mention that Standards need to be revised for the redesigned layouts as to sustain the effectiveness.  

Start-up Readiness (Productivity):
Post-crisis, ramping up productivity, and maintaining employee morale will be one of the major challenges faced by manufacturing companies. Understanding supply bottlenecks and overcoming them through alternate sourcing, developing market intelligence to understand demand fluctuations, daily monitoring of operations and rapid problem-solving would be the need of the hour.  

Equipment Maintenance:
Due to lockdowns, the equipment may have been idle for a long period, and restarting the same may pose challenges. This is the time for enhancing the capabilities of technicians/operators through TPM initiatives. Maintenance plans must be chalked out for critical equipment as to maximise the reliability of the equipment.  

Resize the Supply Chain:
As to adapt to changed customer needs post-crisis, and to release working capital without affecting Delivery Performance, one must re-align supply chain and logistics. This needs improvement of flow in production, internal & external logistics. Despite challenges faced in supply chain and distribution, one must identify alternate supply sources in a rapid manner.  

Improving Support Processes:
Support and service processes are vital by nature to support the value-adding activities. Ensuring the effectiveness of these processes while many of the people performing these activities may be working from home is critical too.  

While there is a necessity to adopt these forms of working today, we need to be careful about how the transition into this ‘new way of working’ also referred to as “NEW NORMAL” takes place. This needs a big shift in the paradigms. KAIZEN™ Change Management Model effectively helps organizations do this. This cultural change would be driven by respecting each other’s time (short online meetings), being very clear in communication (as we hardly sit together in a room), managing outcomes by reward & recognition, and using travel to build/strengthen relationships. 

While the most acute part of the crisis would end sooner or later, the organizations that focus on building capacity and acting on making improvements at this stage would be the ones that would reap the rewards and seize the opportunities offered by the eventual recovery.  


Swaroop Ravindra, Senior Consultant, Kaizen Institute

About Kaizen Institute 

Kaizen Institute is the original and premier provider of KAIZEN™ services of Change Management, Business Excellence, Operational Excellence and Lean. 

We support companies of all sizes in all market segments, providing them with a sustainable, competitive advantage. Our Vision is Improving the world with Everyone, Everywhere, Every Day – The KAIZEN™ Way. “KAIZEN™ means Change for the better.” 

Kaizen Institute is a global organization that provides consulting and training services to companies represented in Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa. We are currently operating in 60+ Countries for 35 years. 

Want to know more about our services? Click Here 

Recent Posts

Daily Work Management and its Importance!
Economic Revival – Are we Ready?
Extracting Cash from Working Capital through Lean Distribution

arrow up