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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:

Kaizen:   Continuous improvement of an entire value stream or an individual process to create more value with less waste.  There are two levels of kaizen (Rother and Shook 1999, p. 8):System or flow kaizen focusing on the overall value stream. This is kaizen for management.  Process kaizen focusing on individual processes. This is kaizen for work teams and team leaders.  Value-stream mapping is an excellent tool for identifying an entire value stream and determining where flow and process kaizen are appropriate. More »
Kaizen Promotion Office:   see Lean Promotion Office
Kaizen Workshop:   A group kaizen activity, commonly lasting five days, in which a team identifies and implements a significant improvement in a process.  A common example is creating a continuous flow cell within a week. To do this a kaizen team—including staff experts and consultants as well as operators and line managers—analyzes, implements, tests, and standardizes a new cell. Participants first learn continuous flow principles and then go to the gemba to assess actual conditions and plan the cell. Machines then are moved and the new cell is tested. After improvements, the process is standardized and the kaizen team reports out to More »
KAIZEN CHALLENGE: Lean Technical and Social Quiz
By: Jeff Smith | June 26, 2019
In this kaizen challenge, lean coach Jeff Smith invites you to help determine the optimal lot size to run through assembly. Please share your thoughts! More »
Kaizen Express Book Club Questions
April 12, 2019
What should you do first when starting to implement lean manufacturing? What comes next, then next? With the raft of information now available about lean principles, it’s easy to get confused.  Kaizen Express clarifies the process using a rapid, nonstop style to explain the essential elements of the Toyota Production System (TPS) in a logical implementation sequence.  This succinct but comprehensive back-to-basics book offers lean novices and veterans alike a comprehensive primer on lean principles and implementation that returns to fundamentals and stresses the importance of learning by doing at the individual and team levels.  LEI makes it easy to learn together, More »
Kaizen Means You Care
By: Dan Markovitz | April 21, 2016
"Lean leaders, and lean consultants (like me), often talk about the organizational benefits of kaizen: lower costs, bigger profits, shorter lead times, higher quality, etc.  ," writes Dan Markovitz. But at the same time, we never want to forget that there is a human element of kaizen. In his latest piece for the Lean Post, Dan shares a touching real-life story of this oft-overlooked side of kaizen. More »
Kaizen Learning vs. Traditional Problem-Solving
By: Art Byrne | December 10, 2015
"Lean offers a fundamentally different approach to problem-solving than most traditional companies practice," writes Art Byrne. "Most [traditional] companies delegate important problems to teams of experts that take months to create a plan and even longer to get lasting improvements.  " What would a problem-solving process look like at a lean company? Read this article and find out. More »
Kaizen Event “Malpractice” and What to Do About It
By: Mark Hamel and Chet Marchwinski | May 13, 2015
Performed properly, kaizen events create the technical and cultural foundation for daily continuous improvement. Performed improperly, they can get you nowhere fast. Learn more about the real purpose of kaizen events (and how to run effective ones) in this video interview with Chet Marchwinski and LEI faculty member Mark Hamel. More »
Kaizen Power
By: Michael Ballé | January 29, 2014
In his latest piece for the Post, Michael Ballé explains why "humble 100x1% is better than 1x100% kaizen.  " This kind of kaizen impacts the bottom line of your company and can even change its strategic trajectory. More »
Kaizen and Innovation
By: Ballé, Michael | June 12, 2012
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Can kaizen stifle breakthrough innovation? More »
Kaizen is Fun? Really?
By: Ballé, Michael | September 30, 2009
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I have been learning lean for three years now. My question to you: How is Kaizen 'fun'? Doing lean shakes people out of their comfort zone and challenges everything they believe about their work. Kaizen demands that they constantly improve what they do, and by implication, challenges how well they are working now. I find doing this on a daily basis to be extremely taxing. What advice do you have for me? More »
Kaizen Express
By: Toshiko Narusawa and John Shook | March 30, 2009
Books; Forms and Templates
Kaizen Express is a concise but precise illustrated guide to the fundamentals of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and how to implement them. It is ideal for individuals or teams starting a lean transformation or in need of a quick refresher on the fundamental concepts of lean manufacturing. More »
Kaizen or Rework?
By: Womack, Jim | August 22, 2007
Columns; eLetters
I recently visited a contract electronics manufacturer with a striking capacity for kaizen – the steady improvement of every step along its key value streams. Dozens of kaizen events were being performed across the company to eliminate wasted steps and to remedy quality, availability, adequacy, and flexibility problems in each value stream. At the same time, kaizen teams were trying to speed continuous flow and to perfect pull systems when flow was not possible. More »
Kaizen: the Culture of Continuous Improvement
This workshop is an introduction to the Kaizen Teian or Kaizen methodology which promotes the sustainable continuous improvement as a daily way of life for every member within the organization. The class is based on a “hear-see-do” approach allowing you to learn through instruction, discussion, simulation, and small-group exercise. More »
Fundamentals Redux--An Appreciation of Kaizen Express
By: John Shook | November 25, 2020
Kaizen Express is the expression of an approach to kaizen that is at once a return to basics while at the same time emphasizing the centrality of individual and team learning, says John Shook. This resource is grounded in the belief that the thinking of TPS can only be achieved through doing. More »
Ask Art: The Benefits of Kaizen Learning vs. Traditional Problem-Solving
By: Art Byrne | November 18, 2020
Kaizen is for learning and doing, says Art Byrne, who points out the benefits of this "learn-by-doing" approach over traditional problem-solving. More »
Learn by Doing: Overcoming Inertia and Triggering Engagement Through Kaizen
By: Lean Leaper | July 20, 2020
Practicing daily kaizen powerfully drives the heart of any serious lean effort to learn and improve, a topic that will be addressed in the Virtual Lean Learning Experience by several process improvement leaders from Amadeus Hospitality. This Post shares articles from the archives that expand on this practice. More »
How to Conduct a Virtual Kaizen Event: Some Ideas from the #LeanCommunity
By: Lean Leaper | June 15, 2020
Over 800 lean practitioners have joined and are sharing best practices and ideas on the LEI #LeanCommunity on Slack. More »
Warning: What You Call Kaizen May Really Be Rework
By: Chet Marchwinski and Jim Morgan | September 25, 2019
If you begin your lean management transformation on the shop floor, you run the risk of having to rework processes and products that should have been much, much better coming out of the development system. So, if you want the best leverage point for a lean transformation, move upstream from production to product development. Jim Morgan, LEI author and former Rivian COO explains in this interview. More »
How can there be standards -- or kaizen -- in a service job when no two instances are the same?
By: Michael Ballé | August 5, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m in a service job and I struggle with the idea of standards. I read that there can be no kaizen without standards but how can you have standards when no two instances are the same? More »
Ask Art: Aren’t You a Little “Old School” in Your Kaizen Approach To Implementing Lean Thinking?
By: Art Byrne | March 13, 2019
When you say “kaizen is old school” you may be seriously off track, argues Art Byrne. Focusing on tools like A3 might be popular and trendy, but companies that focus on tools have a hard time getting out of the tools stage of lean; and rarely become lean enterprises. They are taking the easy way out. More »
Ask Art: How Should I Re-invest the Gains from Kaizen?
By: Art Byrne | February 8, 2019
Becoming lean through using kaizen activity allows you to remove a great deal of waste and deliver value to your customers, shares Art Byrne. If you do the right things with the excess resources you free up, you can then leverage your gains far more dramatically. Don’t waste the gains. More »
Improving Engagement One Kaizen at a Time
By: Crystal Davis | February 4, 2019
Engaging the employees at all levels with a clear and realistic understanding of how they inspire, drive and support getting people involved in meaningful work is the best way to show respect, argues lean coach Crystal Davis. More »
We get good results with kaizen, but why don't they stick?
By: Michael Ballé | December 17, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Our teams have good results with kaizen, but nothing seems to stick for long – any advice? More »
Standardized Work or Kaizen? Yes
By: John Shook | December 12, 2018
Some lean folks LOVE to quote the Taiichi Ohno observation that “there is no kaizen without standards," notes John Shook, adding that it is less noted but equally true that “there is no maintenance of standards without kaizen.  ” More »
How can I make sure my teams do kaizen the right way?
By: Michael Ballé | December 10, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: How can I make sure my teams do kaizen the right way? More »
As Toast Kaizen Turns 20, Bruce Hamilton Shares How This Famous Video Came About
By: Bruce Hamilton | August 7, 2018
Watch this "director's cut" video by Bruce Hamilton sharing the backstory behind what has become a classic lean resource: Toast Kaizen. More »
A Week of Kaizen in Just One Day
By: Andrew Quibell | March 15, 2017
"Often when I hear people talk about kaizen, they are under the impression that this is some huge event with dozens of people fixing loads of things over a week," writes Andrew Quibell. But the reality is much simpler - find out how in the latest installment in his visual-lean series. More »
From Chaos to Kaizen: The Visual Way
By: Andrew Quibell | December 20, 2016
In another of his visual depictions of the fundamentals of lean, Andrew Quibell illustrates the process of transforming a chaos-plagued organization into one of continuous improvement. More »
Ask Art: Is There More to Becoming Lean than Conducting Kaizen Events?
By: Art Byrne | July 19, 2016
Kaizen events may be a key part of lean transformation, but they're certainly not the only aspect of it. They're just one step on the stairway to a culture of continuous improvement - but only if you build upon them. Art Byrne shares some great tips for getting the most out of your kaizen events. More »
Why does kaizen feel like chaos?
By: Ballé, Michael | June 27, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Why does kaizen always feel so destabilizing? More »
How do I introduce kaizen to IT?
By: Ballé, Michael | March 14, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Based on your experience, what is the best strategy to introduce kaizen as social, ongoing events without start and end dates in a service industry, specifically IT services? More »
Narrowing the Scope of Kaizen Activities
By: Andrew Quibell | October 20, 2015
Are you having trouble implementing kaizen activities? If so, the solution could be as simple as narrowing down your targets for improvement. Andy Quibell shares his thoughts on what should be the real focus, plus his favorite sketch for planning and executing kaizen activities. More »
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