Traditional Japanese lean concepts will revolutionize your business and personal productivity


Kaizen- The practice of constant improvement
Kaizen increases productivity by involving employees to help eliminate nonessential steps.
Kaizen leads you to greater productivity through elimination. When you analyze working processes, we often find several elements that consume time and energy without contributing anything to the end product.
Muda waste precious time, resources and ultimately money
These wasteful elements are called muda. By eliminating muda, we can free up resources, which in turn can be put to more effective use. For instance, muda could be overproduction, or the waiting time created by inefficient transportation. Work in progress, logistics and wait time is muda.
When team members come together to reduce muda, the firm will save a lot of costs. Kaizen is mostly used in manufacturing. Kaizen is applicable to a wide range of disciplines and fields. You can apply is to any industry.
Steps on how to apply Kaizen
  1. Find ways to reduce muda
  2. Solidify the solution and embed this new solution in the standard operating procedure
Gemba- Where the real action takes place
At this moment, I will introduce the “Gemba”. This term refers to the “workplace” or “production line”. You often need to be on the production line to see the problem for yourself. There are 5 terms related to Gemba
  1. Seiri – sort out the mess
  2. Seiton – straighten things out
  3. Seiso – keep everything clean and tidy, literally.
  4. Seiketsu– keep 1 to 3 a standard you do everyday
  5. Shitsuke – sustain these new standards
I use the Kanban method to solidify gains under the 5S. Kanban is visual – allowing tasks to move from WIP to completion on a board. Visual management is an invaluable tool in an increasingly complex work environment. It’s cheap, commonsensical and allows us to save our time for the real work that needs doing.
Implement the three concepts together in your workplace to achieve improvement
Stringing the concepts together, Kaizen is a lean and efficient concept that must be implemented collaboratively among the team. Gemba is where things must start – at the workplace. We can use the 5S to find muda (waste), leading to Kaizen outcomes.
The place for improvements and innovations is the Gemba, so this is where managers should be. Only in the Gemba can one see where elements of Muda exist, and where there is room for improvement.
Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda, never had a real office because he was always walking through the Gemba. If the workers see that their managers are in the Gemba, demonstrate Kaizen and are self-disciplined, their own motivation will increase. Both maintenance and improvement occur within the Gemba. Therefore, the manager needs to be there to do his or her job right. Of course, if the managers are active at all levels of the Gemba, they know their workers much better and both sides have more faith in each other. This is integral to the effective practice of Kaizen.