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What is Kaizen?

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Kaizen is Japanese for "change for the better." It is a business term for efforts to reduce waste and errors on a daily basis. This typically translates to initiatives for automation, quality improvement, human error reduction and process improvement.

Kaizen in Japan

At many Japanese firms, kaizen is considered everyone's job from executives to janitorial staff. Japan has an inherent cultural tendency for things to stay the same. That is to say, that the country has a wonderful knack for preserving traditions and the old way of doing things. This may help to explain the prevalence of kaizen at Japanese firms as a means of forcing change. Japanese companies may also have a preference for stable, small, incremental changes and improvements that kaizen tends to drive.

Kaizen Campaign

Although Kaizen is seen as everyone's job all the time it is often managed through a quality assurance function. It is common to assign kaizen leaders and hold kaizen campaigns where everyone focuses on finding an improvement, often at the start or end of a fiscal year. Recent failures at a firm can trigger a more intensive kaizen campaign.
Overview: Kaizen
Efforts to make incremental improvements, reduce waste and eliminate errors on an ongoing basis.
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