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Need to improve the performance and profitability of your business? Adopt the Kaizen approach!

Little or very little known, even little used in our companies, the Kaizen approach, essential for the implementation of Lean Management in the company, has however proven itself in many small, medium and large companies in the world.

"The Kaizen strategy is the most important concept in Japanese management, it is the key to the competitive success of the Japanese industry. Kaizen means continuous improvement involving everyone, Directors, Managers and workers"

Musaaki Imai, "Kaizen: The key of Japan's Competitive Success" 1986

There are mainly 2 approaches to solving business problems:

- The first involves innovation, advanced methodologies, often very expensive technical solutions, investments ...

- The second uses "common sense", very efficient systems as well as tools and techniques that don't cost a lot of money.

This approach is called KAIZEN.

What is a Kaizen workshop?

A Kaizen workshop is a dedicated teamwork, under a mode of operation in training-to-action which is disciplined and rigorous and whose goal is to create and develop quick, practical solutions to a or several company problems, whether it is a clear problem resolution, a process streamlining activity or an improvement of quality, delay or cost performance.

- It involves the people who actually do the work, that is to say the actors of the process or who are "responsible" for it through a very concentrated multifunctional approach, results-oriented, over a period of 2 to 5 days.

- This approach requires, as a prerequisite, an intensive support from management, a multifunctional team that is empowered to make immediate decisions and changes.

- The results are typically major improvements in terms of quality, reduction of lead times and cost of products or services.

- It is absolutely necessary to establish a detailed planning for the implementation of solutions during the Kaizen workshop, as well as to plan and then hold periodic meetings to review the implementation of changes.

There are several dimensions to the Kaizen approach:

There is not only one format and only one "dimension" for Kaizen workshops. These dimensions, which can differ from one company to another and from one subject to another, are characterized by:

- The relative complexity of the subject to be treated

- The duration of the Kaizen workshop itself which can last from 2 days to 5 days depending on the subject

- Integration of this into a business approach

- The impact it (or these) can have on the company.

The extent of the complexity of Kaizen workshops can vary widely. This can range, for example, from the definition and implementation in a team of visual management elements to the reconfiguration and rationalization of all key business processes, or the dramatic improvement of the quality of products or services.

Many of our companies, on the other hand, make more or less fruitful attempts by trying to deploy Lean through Kaizen workshops in a sporadic manner, by theme (visual management, 5S, etc.) or by function (often starting with manufacturing). This approach, unfortunately, will only have visible effects on the performance, profitability and competitiveness of the company in the long term, we will then speak of continuous improvement.

Deploy Lean through Kaizen workshops on the key processes selected at the company level according to criteria, for example, impact on customer satisfaction / process efficiency, associated with an adequate deployment structure led by Lean Management consultants, will quickly and drastically improve the performance of the company and improve its financial profitability. We will then speak of breakthrough improvement.

Typical Kaizen workshop results are in the order of:

- 30 to 60% reduction in lead time for processes (manufacturing, logistics, purchasing, engineering, human resources, etc.)

- 10% to 40% improvement in the quality of products or services

- 15 to 60% reduction in product costs

Achieving improvements in the business with one's own solutions and ideas, as well as with the contribution of one's own employees, on an ongoing basis, generally results in creating a competitive advantage and a culture that cannot be bought and transferred from the outside.

It is a lasting and unique culture of the companyHealth Fitness Articles, retained within.

Article Tags: Kaizen Approach, Kaizen Workshop, Kaizen Workshops

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Alain Hernandez is a former executive from Airbus and Untied Technologies who has spent most of his career helping companies to improve their performances, profitability and competitiveness. He is now CEO of ATEMI Consulting a Lean Management consultancy agency.

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