Kaikaku, sometimes called Kakushin, is a Japanese Lean term meaning radical improvement in a limited time. It is a philosophy centered around creating more value and less waste in production by implementing major changes. Innovation is key to Kaikaku, and innovating new processes, new products, new management practices, and new machines can have a huge impact on the facility as a whole.

Lean expert Hiroyuki Hirano created the Ten Commandments of Kaikaku, an excellent place to begin understanding the principles of Kaikaku before making any radical changes:

  1. Throw out the traditional concept of manufacturing methods.
  2. Think of how the new method will work, not how it won’t work.
  3. Don’t accept excuses. Totally deny the status quo.
  4. Don’t seek perfection; a 50-percent implementation rate is fine as long as it is done on the spot.
  5. Correct mistakes the moment they are found.
  6. Don’t spend money on Kaikaku.
  7. Problems give you a chance to use your brains.
  8. Ask “why” five times.
  9. Tens person’s ideas are better than one person’s knowledge.
  10. Kaikaku knows no limits.

Kaikaku is often used in the context of another Japanese production philosophy, Kaizen. Both Kaizen and Kaikaku work to improve production processes but are two very different approaches. Where Kaizen is focused is focused on continuous incremental changes, Kaikaku works to make fundamental changes that will have a significant impact. Kaizen projects are typically smaller, require less resources, and project timelines are relatively short. On the other hand, Kaikaku is used for larger projects that require more resources, more staff, and a longer period of time to plan. Although more time, effort, and cost are put into Kaikaku efforts, changes will likely have a much more dramatic impact on efficiency and the bottom line.

It is important to note that facilities do not need to choose between Kaizen and Kaikaku, but rather look for a balance of the two. Any Lean facility should be continuously improving while empowering employees with Kaizen, but when a major problem calls for a radical solution, Kaikaku is the approach to take.


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