Gemba kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy that shows how step-by-step improvements process refinements and enhancements are the surest, easiest, quickest method in maximizing productivity and quality. Defined as the real place where real action occurs, gemba is where products are developed (the lab and design table) and made (the shop floor), and where services are provided (the service center, retail outlet, or wherever customers come into contact the service provider). Reengineering or reinventing your corporation is disruptive, expensive, and typically doesn't work. By applying kaizen to gemba, you can achieve inexpensive, incremental improvements in your most critical business processes—manufacturing and service—to obtain quantum leaps in customer satisfaction, quality, productivity, and profitability as never before.
"Rarely can an author take credit for changing the way business works, but Imai did just that in 1986, in his native Japan, when he wrote Kaizen (Japanese for ""continuous, incremental improvement"").” — Publishers Weekly
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Reengineering or reinventing your corporation is disruptive, expensive, and typically doesn't work. By applying kaizen to gemba, you can achieve inexpensive, incremental improvements in your most critical business processes—manufacturing and service—to obtain quantum leaps in customer satisfaction, quality, productivity, and profitability as never before.
Innovation is one-shot, and its results are often problematic, while the kaizen process, based on common sense and low-cost approaches, assures incremental progress that pays off in the long run.
Kaizen emphasizes human efforts, morale, communication, training, teamwork, involvement, and self-discipline—a commonsense, low-cost approach to improvement.
The most crucial element in the kaizen process is the commitment and involvement of top management. It must be demonstrated immediately and consistently to assure success in the kaizen process.
Of the primary goals of quality, cost, and delivery, quality should always have the highest priority. No matter how attractive the price and delivery terms offered to the customer, the company will not be able to compete if the product or service lacks quality.
Practicing a quality-first credo requires management commitment because managers often face the temptation to make compromises in meeting delivery requirements or cutting costs. In doing so, they risk sacrificing not only quality but the life of the business as well.
Management should establish clear targets to guide everyone and make certain to provide leadership for all kaizen activities directed toward achieving the targets. Real kaizen strategy at work requires closely supervised implementation.
Kaizen without a target would resemble a trip without a destination. Kaizen is most effective when everybody works to achieve a target, and management should set that target.
Efficient daily management of resources requires standards. Every time problems or irregularities arise, the manager must investigate, identify the root cause, and revise the existing standards or implement new ones to prevent recurrence. Standards become an integral part of gemba kaizen and provide the basis for daily improvement.
Standardization in gemba often means the translation of technological and engineering requirements specified by engineers into workers' day-to-day operational standards. Such a translating process does not require technology or sophistication. It does require a clear plan from management deployed in logical phases.