Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “improvement”. It originated from the Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement. This business philosophy made Japanese manufacturing companies more efficient than their counterparts. This made companies in the USA also adopt this business philosophy in the late 1980s. As much as kaizen offers a lot of benefits to businesses, it also has its downside. Hence, you need to understand kaizen advantages and disadvantages if you are planning to adopt this quality improvement methodology.
Generally, a business needs continuous improvements to be able to meet and exceed customer’s expectations. This is where kaizen comes in. Kaizen offers a scientific approach to continuous improvements. In addition, it employs statistical tools and incorporates business values to improvements.
Furthermore, kaizen is based on the theory that a series of small improvements can cause a drastic change in business processes. Thus, kaizen encourages the input and creativity of employees in implementing changes. As a result, employees are always open to changes as a part of improvement.
To make this an easy read, we’ll focus on the main kaizen advantages and disadvantages, highlighting several benefits and limitations of kaizen.
Kaizen as a method of improvement is not only beneficial to the business. It is also beneficial to employees, customers and the organization as a whole. This management theory is applicable to most types of businesses. Kaizen recognizes and rewards the efforts of employees. By so doing, it gives them a sense of worth in the organization.
One of the major kaizen advantages is improved teamwork. Kaizen is a quality improvement tool driven by teamwork. It does not benefit only a selected few, but everyone involved in the business process. As the kaizen team solves problems together, they develop a bond and build team spirit. Thus, employees are able to work with a fresh perspective, an unbiased mind and without prejudice.
In addition, teamwork helps build cross-functional collaborations. Since skilled workers from different departments implement kaizen, team members are able to refine their skills. Most often, the biggest opportunities for improvement lies where one process flows into another. Cross-functional collaborations enable employees with different experiences to learn from one another and solve problems together. Therefore, this one kaizen advantage is that it improves teamwork and cooperation amongst employees.
Kaizen builds leadership skills
Every kaizen team must have a team leader. The team leader is responsible for organizing the kaizen team and coordinating implementation. The kaizen team leader makes sure that everyone is performing their roles successfully. The team leader is also responsible for sourcing for help when additional resources are required. Nevertheless, s/he does not have to be in a management role to qualify as a team leader. Thus, another kaizen advantage is that it presents an opportunity for employees to take on leadership roles.
A major kaizen advantage is improved efficiency. Kaizen improvements boost the quality of services. It helps businesses implement new process improvements, boost efficiency and enhance time management. For example, Toyota Manufacturing Company employs kaizen in its production process. First of all, they deploy muscle-memory training to train their employees on how to assemble a car. Muscle-memory training helps them to achieve accurate results. Hence, their employees are able to work with precision.
Also, immediately an automotive plant reaches its peak in terms of efficiency, the company removes a few workers from that plant. By so doing, Toyota Manufacturing is able to minimize errors and maximize productivity.
Improved Standard Work Document
Implementing changes during kaizen results to a new and improved Standard Work Document. Standard Work Document, also called standardized work, is a tool that forms the foundation of kaizen improvements. It contains the current best practice guiding a business. Sometimes, this is the main aim of implementing kaizen. In addition, Standard Work Document serves as the base for future improvements. It also serves as a tool for measuring employee performance and educating new employees about improvements. In essence, kaizen helps businesses develop a Standard Word Document.
Improved employee satisfaction
Another kaizen advantage is that it improves employee satisfaction. Kaizen involves the employees when implementing changes for improvements. Employees can make suggestions and creative input for changes through a suggestion system like team meetings. When employees are involved in decision making, it gives them a sense of belonging and worth. They are eager to implement changes and think of new ways to improve the processes. By so doing, the employees are motivated and productivity increases. Also, employees are more willing to take ownership of process improvements. Rather than falling back on old methods, they become advocates of quality improvements.
Improving safety on the work floor is a kaizen advantage for business. Safety is improved when businesses implement ideas that clean up and organize workspace. By so doing, employees have better control of business process equipment. Employees are also encouraged to make suggestions to improve safety on the work floor. This helps to minimize accidents and other related injuries. Hence, employees become more efficient and manage their time properly. However, safety is a responsibility of management as well.
Kaizen reduces wastes in business processes. This is another major kaizen advantage. Kaizen is the responsibility of everyone. Therefore, management and staff are responsible for identifying areas that constitute waste in the business process. By implementing constant changes, they can determine the root cause of wastage and fix them. By so doing, waste is eradicated from the business process and cost is reduced. Furthermore, resources are used more judiciously, and the business becomes more profitable.
The method of continuous improvement applied in kaizen helps businesses to achieve great successes. No business grows overnight. It requires a lot of patience and hard work. This also includes recognizing areas of improvements and making necessary changes.
Difficult to implement in existing systems
Despite the many benefits of kaizen, there are some limitations business managers need to be aware of before deciding to implement it. This is because implementing kaizen is tantamount to altering current management systems. As soon as kaizen is implemented in an organisation, it is very difficult to return to old management systems. Hence, kaizen might be easier to implement in businesses without already established management systems.
However, it is a very difficult task to change the entire management system of a business. Therefore, it is important that businesses maintain a practice of open communication for kaizen to be efficient. Employees should be given the opportunity to air their views without fear. Although, this is not usually the case for many businesses. Employees usually fear that if they are open to management it would cost them their chances for promotion or other benefits.
Change is difficult
One of the greatest kaizen disadvantages is that people are always reluctant to change. Therefore, when businesses want to implement kaizen, they have to put up with a certain resistance. Employees might not be ready to accept a different system from what they have been used to. On the other hand, management might be reluctant to implement kaizen because they feel it is expensive.
Could cause frictions
In addition, when implementing kaizen, could be very difficult for some organisations to change their current approach to work. Hence, if a business is not prepared for change when implementing kaizen, it could lead to friction.
Another kaizen disadvantage is the method of training. The kaizen methodology requires training staff and management to understand and adopt the kaizen philosophy. This might require altering the usual process of work. Employees may need to take out time from work to undergo training. Also, new employees may need to undergo kaizen training in addition to their usual training. Thus, they may find it tedious and demanding. More so, the time allotted for training may not be sufficient for employees to grasp the entire concept of kaizen. As such, employees may not be willing to implement a concept they do not understand.
Enthusiasm could wane easily
Employees might be excited at first to implement changes. However, their excitement could wear away when the changes become difficult to adapt to. As such, they may resort to old practices and stick to ‘business as usual’. In addition, employees could be demoralized and unenthusiastic about work. Hence, the time and resources spent to implement kaizen are wasted and the purpose of implementing kaizen is defeated.
Few bad eggs could ruin the whole batch
Even if some departments stick to the changes that have the implemented, it could still affect overall business performance. It is true that kaizen will improve the departments that accept the changes. Nevertheless, the overall output will be compromised if other departments do not adopt the changes as well.
Generally, continuous improvement is a great way for a business to operate. Notwithstanding, training employees to adapt to continuous improvements is expensive and tasking. Also, when businesses implement continuous improvements, they might be at risk of changing parts of their processes that are actually functioning well.
Kaizen is a method of continuous improvement that helps to eliminate waste and defects in a business process. Despite the fact that it is beneficial to a business, it is also beneficial to employees and customers as well. However, it is important for business managers to understand kaizen advantages and disadvantages before choosing to implement it.
Many advantages of kaizen
Apart from eliminating waste in business processes, kaizen helps to improve efficiency. Kaizen creates standardized work processes, reduces cost and boosts productivity. In addition, an organisation’s leader often leads kaizen. It is not necessary that an employee should be in a management position to qualify as a team leader. Thus, implementing kaizen gives room for employees to take on leadership roles and show their leadership skills. Other kaizen advantages include improving teamwork and including employees in decision making.
Kaizen has limitations too
Nevertheless, kaizen has its limitations. One major kaizen disadvantage is that it distorts the entire management system. Kaizen could be difficult for businesses to go back to previous systems. Also, employees might be unwilling to change the system that they have been used to. Furthermore, training staff to adapt to new changes could be expensive and very demanding. If employees do not play their part in adopting these changes, the amount of time and resources spent will go to waste. In the end, the purpose of implementing kaizen is defeated.
Should an organisation implement kaizen or not? Although kaizen may be difficult to implement, it is not impossible. In addition, it may be easier to implement kaizen in some organisations than others. For instance, a new business can implement kaizen easier than those with already established management systems. It would also be beneficial to a new business if it implements kaizen methodology from inception. Nevertheless, when businesses have a good understanding of kaizen advantages and disadvantages, they can use them for their own benefit.
For more about quality improvement methods, feel free to explore the following articles:
Quality of Care: A Strategic Leader’s Approach
Six Sigma in Healthcare: Concept, Benefits and Examples
Total Quality Management Principles, Concept and Importance
FMEA In Six Sigma: RPN, Tools and FMEA Examples
Kaizen Event – Types, Examples, Agenda and Checklist
Adopting Kaizen has many benefits that improve productively, safety, and the satisfaction of both employees and customers. Each of these, in turn, helps reduce costs and increase profit without large, capital-intensive improvement projects.What may be a disadvantage of using a Kaizen system? ›
One major kaizen disadvantage is that it distorts the entire management system. Kaizen could be difficult for businesses to go back to previous systems. Also, employees might be unwilling to change the system that they have been used to.What is the advantage and disadvantages? ›
As nouns, the difference between disadvantage and advantage is that disadvantage is a weakness or undesirable characteristic; a con while the advantage is any condition, circumstance, opportunity, or means, particularly favorable to success, or any desired end.What are the 5 elements of Kaizen? ›
- personal discipline,
- improved morale,
- quality circles,
- suggestions for improvement.
What Is Kaizen? Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning change for the better or continuous improvement. It is a Japanese business philosophy that concerns the processes that continuously improve operations and involve all employees. Kaizen sees improvement in productivity as a gradual and methodical process.What is Kaizen Six Sigma? ›
Kaizen in relation to Lean Six Sigma
Kaizen and Lean Six Sigma are both methodologies to increase customer satisfaction, to realize lasting improvement of company results and to continuously improve in constructive ways. In both cases, this is about the reduction of squandering and variation.
- Kaizen Teian.
- Kaizen Events.
Kaizen tools are simply the methods and techniques used to identify and eliminate waste in a process. These tools are commonly used in the manufacturing industry to eliminate the 'Eight Wastes' namely, Defects, Waiting, Overproduction, Transportation, Non-utilized talent, Inventory, Extra-processing, and Motion.What are the 3 pillars of Kaizen? ›
- Housekeeping. Housekeeping is the first pillar of Kaizen. ...
- Elimination of Waste. Eliminating waste is the second main pillar of Kaizen. ...
- Standardization. Standardization is the process of developing standards to which production is performed.
- Overproduction. Producing more or sooner than needed. ...
- Waiting. Idle workers or machines. ...
- Inefficient operations. Operations that aren't efficient or necessary and don't add value for the customer. ...
- Transport. Excess movement of materials, products or information. ...
- Inventory. ...
- Motion. ...
- Poor quality. ...
- Misused resources.
- Advantage: Eliminates Waste. ...
- Advantage: Worker Satisfaction. ...
- Advantage: Just in Time. ...
- Advantage: Competitive Advantage. ...
- Disadvantage: New Inefficiencies. ...
- Disadvantage: Low Margin for Error. ...
- Disadvantage: Worker Frustration.
Just-in-time advantages and disadvantages
minimising waiting times and transport costs. saving resources by streamlining your production systems. reducing the capital you have tied up in stock. dispensing with the need for inventory operations.
- Disadvantaged child.
- Disadvantaged pupil.
- Political correctness.
- Social exclusion.
- Social vulnerability.
The pros and cons of something are its advantages and disadvantages, which you consider carefully so that you can make a sensible decision. They sat for hours debating the pros and cons of setting up their own firm. Motherhood has both its pros and cons.What is an example of advantage and disadvantage? ›
For example, there are many advantages to travelling by private jet, but there is one huge disadvantage (the cost) that stops most people from flying that way, and therefore the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.What is Kaizen formula? ›
The cycle of kaizen activity can be defined as: Plan → Do → Check → Act. This is also known as the Shewhart cycle, Deming cycle, or PDCA.What are Kaizen steps? ›
Take a look at the four-step process of the Deming cycle. Additional approaches to the Kaizen cycle exist, such as one that is condensed into four steps -- plan, do, check, act, or PDCA. It is also known as the Shewhart cycle or Deming cycle.What are the 10 principles of Kaizen? ›
- Start with the 3 “Actual” Rule. ...
- Abolish the old and conventional concepts.
- Question current practices and reject the status quo.
- Rely on data, not opinions.
- Correct mistakes immediately.
- Don't seek perfection, choose a simple solution.
- Ask why 5 times to identify root causes.
Kaizen is the Japanese word for a “good change” (Kai = change, Zen = good). It means constant improvement of all company functions, at every hierarchical level, from CEO to the least paid employees. It doesn't matter if the change happens one time or is constant, big or small, as long as it is a change for the better.What is Kaizen with example? ›
The word Kaizen comes from the Japanese words for “Good” and “Change.” In businesses and other organizations, Kaizen refers to activities that continually improve all processes and involve every employee from the executive team to front line workers.
- Focus on the process, not the goal. ...
- Engage your employees in the decision-making process. ...
- Go after the low-hanging fruit. ...
- “Do it better, make it better” ...
- Eliminate waste in all forms. ...
- Don't throw money at problems. ...
- Gemba Walks. ...
- Hoshin Kanri.
KAIZEN™ Yellow Belt Certification is a 4 day program that will provide participants with the basic Lean training needed to begin building a Continuous Improvement culture.What are the 7 wastes in Kaizen? ›
Under the lean manufacturing system, seven wastes are identified: overproduction, inventory, motion, defects, over-processing, waiting, and transport.What is 3S Kaizen? ›
The lean concept of 3S stands for three Japanese terms translated into english meaning: sort, sweep, and standardize. It's a simple yet powerful method for creating organization and productivity while identifying problems and “fixing the things that bug us.”How many stages are in Kaizen? ›
A Kaizen event has four key phases: Selecting, Planning, Implementing and Follow Up. Kaizen events will cause minimal disruption to your current daily production output when planned well, but they can yield a significant increase in efficiency once completed.Who is the founder of Kaizen? ›
Over 30 years ago, Masaaki Imai sat down to pen the groundbreaking book 'Kaizen: The Key to Japan's Competitive Success' (McGraw Hill).What are 6 sigma tools? ›
Six Sigma tools are defined as the problem-solving tools used to support Six Sigma and other process improvement efforts. The Six Sigma expert uses qualitative and quantitative techniques to drive process improvement.Where is Kaizen used? ›
Kaizen can be used in many other departments than just manufacturing. As Kaizen has developed over the years, the implementation of Kaizen can be used in areas like service and customer care, marketing, logistics, sales, human resources, etc.What are 3 M's of Six Sigma? ›
Six Sigma is defined or implemented through applying DMAIC. DMAIC is an acronym for five interconnected phases: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. M stands for measure (Measure the performance of the Core Business Process involved.)What is 6S Kaizen? ›
6S (otherwise known as 5S + Safety) is a system that aims to promote and sustain a high level of productivity and safety throughout a workspace. While adhering to the 5S principle of Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain, the 6S method adds the concept of Safety.
While Six Sigma and Kaizen are notable in their differences, they're ultimately parallel in their goal: to help businesses eliminate deficiencies and increase their productivity. This means the two philosophies can be used in tandem.What are five phases of 5S? ›
The 5S pillars, Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke), provide a methodology for organizing, cleaning, developing, and sustaining a productive work environment.What are the two pillars of lean? ›
The Pillars of Lean: Continuous Improvement and Respect for People. The two pillars of Lean are continuous improvement and respect for people. When used correctly, these guiding principles inform smarter decision making and guide organizations toward becoming healthier, more productive systems.What are the disadvantages and disadvantages of planning? ›
- Rigidity. Planning has tendency to make administration inflexible. ...
- Misdirected Planning. Planning may be used to serve individual interests rather than the interest of the enterprise. ...
- Time consuming. ...
- Probability in planning. ...
- False sense of security. ...
You will increase efficiency
Six Sigma not only helps you reduce waste, but it also helps you further leverage effective processes. With formal training, you will learn how to utilize resources to achieve maximum effectiveness using your current business processes.
- Too Large: ...
- Production Not According to Individual Tastes: ...
- No Personal Contacts: ...
- Not Flexible: ...
- Monopoly: ...
- Over-Production: ...
- Evils of Factory System: ...
- Unequal Distribution of Wealth:
- Risk of Running Out of Stock - With JIT manufacturing, you do not carry as much stock. ...
- Dependency on Suppliers - Having to rely on the timelessness of suppliers for each order puts you at risk of delaying your customers' receipt of goods.
- A supplier that does not deliver goods to the company exactly on time and in the correct amounts could seriously impact the production process.
- A natural disaster could interfere with the flow of goods to the company from suppliers, which could halt production almost at once.
- Advantage: Specialization. ...
- Advantage: Operational Speed. ...
- Advantage: Operational Clarity. ...
- Disadvantage: Segregation. ...
- Disadvantage: Weakening of Common Bonds. ...
- Disadvantage: Lack of Coordination. ...
- Disadvantage: Territorial Disputes.
The main advantage of Six Sigma compared to other approaches to quality control is that Six Sigma is customer driven. Six Sigma is defined as a limit of 3.4 defects per one million products or service processes, where anything not acceptable to the end customer is considered a defect.
Disadvantages of organizational structure include lopsided management lines, increased bureaucracy, slowed communications, and increased inflexibility. These disadvantages may not always persist in an organization.What are the five functions of management? ›
At the most fundamental level, management is a discipline that consists of a set of five general functions: planning, organizing, staffing, leading and controlling.What are the 4 types of organizing? ›
The ClutterBug Philosophy is founded on the idea that there are four types of organization: the Ladybug, Bee, Cricket, and Butterfly. Each of these organization types focus on distinct needs with visual and practical organization.What are the disadvantages of Lean? ›
- Lack of time. ...
- A lack of strategy. ...
- Not enough buy-in. ...
- Cutting things too fine.
Material requirements planning (MRP) is a system for calculating the materials and components needed to manufacture a product. It consists of three primary steps: taking inventory of the materials and components on hand, identifying which additional ones are needed and then scheduling their production or purchase.Which is a disadvantage of JIT training? ›
People generally complete modules privately at their workstations, and they may be prone to on-the-job multitasking. Although this may be considered a benefit, it can also be a disadvantage as it may diminish the effectiveness of the learning if learners are engaged in other tasks simultaneously.What are the 6 Sigma tools? ›
- Continuous Improvement.
- Culture of Quality.
- Process Management.
- Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
- Value Stream Mapping (VSM)
The Downside of Six Sigma
In some cases, it even leads to increased production costs. That is because the cost savings made by virtue of eliminating returned products, costly reworks, and defective products, are only a process improvement byproduct.
- Six Sigma Black Belt. Black belts are experts and agents of change. They provide training in addition to leading projects.
- Six Sigma Master Black Belt. This is the highest level of Six Sigma achievement.