SME: 5 advantages of the Kaizen method

The Kaizen method might just be the miracle solution for your business. A combination of the Japanese words “kai” and “zen,” meaning “change” and “better” respectively, Kaizen is a school of thought that advocates continuous improvement. Often associated with car manufacturer Toyota, the process aims at revolutionizing how companies operate, one step at a time. Learn how!

The Kaizen method is a process of continuous improvement based on concrete measures that are simple and low-cost. As the head of an SME, this latter characteristic is probably music to your ears!

You heard right: No need to have a huge budget to adopt this approach. The goal is not to turn everything upside-down from morning to night at your company, but instead to advance in the process one step at a time at a steady pace. The Kaizen way of thinking must first be implemented at every level of the company. Involving all your employees is also an essential part of the project. While it’s an appropriate method to use throughout the year, the Kaizen method usually begins by holding a company workshop.

Kaizen: Before, during and after!

During a Kaizen workshop, which lasts anywhere from two to 10 days, a group of workers need to be freed from their usual responsibilities in order to participate actively in the process. Prior to the workshop, these participants will have drawn up guidelines for the project, specifying the mandate and identifying the motivations that are driving the company to want to move forward and put its improvement goals in black and white.

Later on, an on-site follow-up to track any changes effected will need to be performed. The first step in the process is often an internal audit to verify whether employees have implemented the proposed improvements. Next, to determine the success of the process, any positive repercussions on your organizational performance need to be measured using indicators established prior to starting the process.

If everything goes according to plan, the Kaizen method could benefit your SME in many significant ways.

Advantages of the Kaizen method

  1. Improved quality of products and services

Reviewing all your processes in every service will lead to the improvement of your service offering. By refining every detail, from product creation through to optimizing your supply chain to become more agile, customer satisfaction will be improved. And so will your brand!

  1. Reduced delays across all services

This process allows you to reduce the amount of down time across your departments. For example, employees may no longer need to wait between performing two tasks, or unused, yet functional equipment can be brought back into your operations. As a result, shorter delays will allow you to more quickly achieve your targeted objectives. This just goes to show that when you do things differently, you get different results!

  1. Optimization of productivity within your manufacturing centre

A well-executed Kaizen process will bring results in terms of competitiveness. Reviewing all your processes will allow you to reduce unnecessary trips or displacements by workers or pointless back-and-forth activities. For example, an inconveniently located photocopier that requires a receptionist to come and go from their desk can be moved to a better location. The goal is to avoid wasting time and energy in order to make gains in efficiency.

  1. Improvement of work conditions for your employees

The Kaizen method requires the involvement of all workers on a project. Since they are the people directly involved on a day-to-day basis, they are the ones that will know what does and doesn’t work, whether at their own work station or in the implementation of some particular task. This means employees participate in the improvement of their own work processes, all for the greater good of the organization!

  1. Increased profits

Greater efficiency often goes hand in hand with greater profitability! Limiting the amount of surplus stock, eliminating waste and avoiding unnecessary expenses will definitely have a positive impact on your earnings statement! 

Kaizen: 8 factors for success to remember 

  • Challenge your current practices without making excuses or assigning blame.
  • Don’t stick to rigid ideas— instead, maintain an open mind.
  • Try to make quick improvements to your current situation without looking for the perfect solution.
  • Correct mistakes during operations as soon as they arise.
  • Give priority to solutions that only require a small investment.
  • Believe that you can always do better.
  • Provide updates on the project’s advancement using visual representations.
  • Think about how you can achieve a result instead of the obstacles you’ve encountered along the way.