Kaizen offers a variety of tools and strategies a business can use to continually improve. Below are just a few techniques and tools that will aide in the implementation of Kaizen:
- PDCA Cycle: PDCA cycles are cycle that is often implemented when completing Kaizen strategies. This cycle can be used employees of all levels in the organization and is an effective introduction to Lean manufacturing. There are 4 phases of the cycle: Plan > Do > Check > Act that allows a continuous structure for kaizen strategies to be implemented and assessed while providing a framework for continuous Improvement.
- Gemba: Gemba means the real place. Often managers and supervisors can get valuable information by actually going down to the production line and talking with employees. Gemba is often used in the form of Gemba walks, which are scheduled walks for managers and supervisors observe processes up close and talk with frontline employees.
- Jishuken: Jishuken can be translated into an autonomous study groups or self-study. This concept encouragers managers to be more directly involved and learn about the processes they are responsible for and how they can work to improve them.
- 5 Whys: This is an important tool when it comes to identifying the root cause of an issue. It is difficult to make an impactful change in the workplace if the root cause has yet to be considered. The 5 Whys is exactly like the name implies; after a problem arises you should ask yourself why five times.
- Value Stream Mapping: Mapping out processes and streams in a facility can be very beneficial for a business practicing Kaizen. These maps are usually hand-drawn and include a diagram of materials moving through the different areas of the workplace. Value stream maps aim to identify wastes in the manufacturing process and find areas where improvement within a process is possible, these potential improvements can be the subject of future Kaizen activities and events.
It is important to remember these are just a few tools that fall under the umbrella of Kaizen. To learn more about the tools, strategies, and techniques of Kaizen, check out our comprehensive Kaizen article!