Using Kaizen for Employee Engagement and Improvement


Kaizen is a Japanese term that means continuous improvement. It all sounds good on the surface, but the reality is that very few companies fully embrace kaizen. There are two ways to approach kaizen. Creating a proper kaizen culture is the way to achieve this.

Disruptive Change vs. The Small Steps of Kaizen (Maybe not Either/Or, but Both/And)

First Friday Book Synopsis

We know of the value of disruptive change, described best by Clayton M. Christensen. Here’s the description (from Wikipedia): A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. But I […]. Randy''s blog entries

Trending Sources

Hansei and 6 Pitfalls to Avoid in Reflective Exercises


Kaizen complements Hansei and ensures that lessons are executed. Also Read: Using Kaizen for Employee Engagement and Improvement. - – - – -. As individuals, teams and organizations, how much we learn from our past is critical for our improvement and future success.

The Spirit of Kaizen

CEO Blog

I read a book - the Spirit of Kaizen - Creating Lasting Excellence One Small Step at a Time by Robert Maurer. The title says what kaizen is - the process of continually creating excellence or continually getting just a bit better. The same is true of Kaizen. For me, most kaizen revolves around those. The Spirit of Kaizen has a lot of little ideas for personal and business growth. Every sales person needs to practice Kaizen.

Uniting the Religions of Process Improvement

First Friday Book Synopsis

Bob's blog entries "Black Belts" Brad Power Business Process Management (BPM) Chemical company Air Products four process improvement "religions" General Electric Harvard Business Review blog Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts Kaizen Lean Lean "senseis" Lean Enterprise Institute Michael Hammer Motorola Shell Oil Six Sigma the Toyota Production System Toyota Uniting the Religions of Process Improvement

Innovative Companies Copy

Create Learning

Corporate Team Building creativity innovation problem solving kaizen facilitation process improvementIn Standardization is the first step to innovation , Alan Kay Wrote, “…every team is different.

Team 14

How to Get Your Leadership Resolutions Back on Track

Next Level Blog

Practice what the Japanese call kaizen – continuous improvement through small steps. A new year brings with it the promise of change, but desire quickly gets crowded out by reality. Lists of resolutions are made and then fade. Part of the problem is the length of the lists themselves. When it comes to making meaningful change in how you show up as a leader this year, less is more.

The Failure of “The Livonia Philosophy” at my GM Plant

Deming Institute

Speaking of continuous improvement, my GM plant also had a very traditional “suggestion system,” not a Kaizen-style approach to improvement. Guest post by Mark Graban. As I wrote about in my first post , my first job out of college was at the GM Livonia Engine Plant, outside of Detroit.

Lean IT Leadership: Top 10 lessons from Mike Orzen

2020 IT Leader

9 Do Support learn by doing : Develop internal Lean IT coaches, Standard Lean IT Training, make room for improvement projects and daily Kaizen (2-4 hrs per week). #9+ Anticipate & Build for the Future CIO Kaizen Lean Lean IT Technology Transformations Video

Is It Fun Being Led by You?

Lead Change Blog

We got our black belts in six-sigma; words or acronyms like Kaizen, PDCA, TQM, QC and ISO became everyday parts of our work language. Few American presidents were more fun loving than Theodore Roosevelt. He hunted wild animals in Africa and, as a naturalist, started the U.S. Forestry Service.

Leading For A Better Tomorrow

Tanveer Naseer

In regards to the future, Drucker advocated using this with kaizen, or continuous, ongoing improvement. The following is a guest piece by Bruce Rosenstein. How can leaders best shape the future of their organizations?

In Review: The Outstanding Organization by Karen Martin


This book also touches upon applicability of essential lean concepts including Gemba and Kaizen in building a high performance organization. In quest of excellence, an organization that grows has to deal with chaos.

Cliff Norman and Ron Moen Discuss the History of the PDSA Cycle

Deming Institute

Whereas in business… to stay in business you have to continually learn (continuous improvement, kaizen) but also you need to act.

Jennifer Prosek: An interview by Bob Morris

First Friday Book Synopsis

Bob's blog entries 360º feedback a “culture of candor” a business “boot camp” AMACOM (a division of the American Management Association) an off-site professional development session that is dedicated to teaching the employees the business or focused on a specific topic Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth “Army of EntrepreneursTM” model “kaizen” “truth well packaged" v.

Reflections on Dr. Deming’s Hospital Notes – What Has Changed Since 1990?

Deming Institute

Lean organizations engage every employee, regardless of the letters after their names, in improvement through Plan Do Study Adjust cycles and a Kaizen improvement process. Guest post by Mark Graban.

True North Can Really Be “Management by Results” in Disguise

Deming Institute

Example: meeting budget, achieving 95% performance in the country on all quality indicators and, having all our staff members on Kaizen events. Guest post by Mike Stoecklein. I hear a lot of talk in healthcare about the importance of defining “true north” for the organization.

Why Dr. Deming’s Work is So Important to Me

Deming Institute

Mark also co-authored Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements , which was released in June 2012 and also a Shingo Research Award recipient in 2013. Guest post by Mark Graban.

What Makes a Great Teacher? Leadership

Tony Mayo

Toyota Under Fire

CEO Blog

Instead of firing employees like many other large firms were doing at the time, Toyota embraced its mantra of kaizen (Toyota’s firm philosophy of change/improvement for the better) and held company-wide training seminars (most impressively in factories it had stopped production in).

Goldilocks, The Three Bears, And Effective Goal Setting

Terry Starbucker

I’ve always remembered something I read in a book many years ago about the Japanese concept of “ Kaizen &# – small improvements (hence, the little bear). Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Goldilocks…… I’ve done a lot of budgeting, planning, and goal setting over the course of my career. I started as a CPA back in 1982, and was always pretty handy around a spreadsheet (even when they were just 12-column green pads).

Goal 35

The Reason for Leadership

Orrin Woodward

The Japanese became famous for their system of Kaizen, recognizing and rewarding good ideas from anyone in the company who could help to improve their systems. Here is a portion of an article on Systematic Thinking, a key tool in a leader's arsenal. The full article is available on the TEAM site.

Senge 37

The Case for Investing More in People

Harvard Business Review

Companies that follow the Toyota Production System use Kaizen events to improve productivity on the manufacturing line. Both Kaizen events and Agile sprints are investments in innovation and human capital productivity. Steven Moore for HBR. “Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything,” wrote Paul Krugman more than 20 years ago.

Feedback Without Measurement Won’t Do Any Good

Harvard Business Review

Organizations that care about Kaizen , or the process of continuous improvement, and facilitating effective feedback will make “accs” a way to make sure that their people have the power to (self) improve. The managerial feedback was excellent — crisp, clear, and constructive.

How 1% Performance Improvements Led to Olympic Gold

Harvard Business Review

As an MBA, I had become fascinated with Kaizen and other process-improvement techniques. When Sir Dave Brailsford became head of British Cycling in 2002, the team had almost no record of success: British cycling had only won a single gold medal in its 76-year history.

Old-School Business Practices Worth Bringing Back

Harvard Business Review

It''s that faith in a kind of kaizen -in-all-things that has led to innumerable technological, organizational, and social advances in the corporate world. In general, the business community is obsessed with what Michael Lewis once termed the "new, new thing."

Companies Are Now Making Innovation Everyone’s Job

Harvard Business Review

Another clear difference is that these kaizen efforts, unlike their Japanese predecessors, are more customer-in than internal-process-out.

How the Navy SEALs Train for Leadership Excellence

Harvard Business Review

A kaizen—continuous improvement—ethos is one thing. Almost every world-class, high-performance organization takes training and education seriously. But Navy SEALs go uncomfortably beyond. They’re obsessive and obsessed. They are arguably the best in the world at what they do.

How to Successfully Work Across Countries, Languages, and Cultures

Harvard Business Review

The Japanese employees, while already fluent with Japanese concepts such as kaizen (improvement) and omotenashi (hospitality), struggled to become proficient in English. Photo by Christine Roy. According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report , the number of people in the global labor force will reach 3.5 billion by 2030 — and yet there will still be a shortage of skilled workers. The result is likely to be intensified global competition for talent.

Maybe Your Team Doesn’t Need to Be More Creative

Harvard Business Review

When it comes to creativity, organizations are a lot like people. They have no problem generating ideas, including some that are potentially useful and novel. Furthermore, they are also generally able to access creative ideas generated by others.

The Key to Change Is Middle Management

Harvard Business Review

Many change leaders use Six Sigma , Kaizen , and Lean for continuous improvement. At the inaugural meeting of a change transformation effort under way at a hospital in San Jose, California, nurse Michelle delaCalle faced a room full of people who were discouraged by the organization’s earlier attempts at change. She stood and shared a story of her own about how making people wait for hours in the emergency department seemed like a violation of her caregiving role.

How to Give a Robot a Job Review

Harvard Business Review

How should smart machines be programmed — or trained — to offer up new insights or kaizen? Smart, quasi-autonomous robots and machines are replacing humans in workplaces all over the world. They learn fast, work hard, and certainly complain less.

Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?

Harvard Business Review

Call it "customer kaizen.". Right answers to wrong questions virtually guarantee failure. Innovators betting on "out of the box" thinking or "faster, better, cheaper" innovation paradigms for success all too frequently find themselves — and their customers — disappointed. Asking "how can we build a better mousetrap?" in an era of touchscreen and haptic virtuosity is not a recipe for success.

The Network is Your Customer

CEO Blog

Now more than ever, Kaizen applies. I am a natural networker and connector. It is natural for me to try to connect people with other people who might be of interest. I believe in nurturing a network and have taken time to deliberately do that. See my blog entry on ways to network easily. So I was interested when a book The Network is your Customer - 5 Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age came across my desk it piqued my interest. But -that is not what the book is about.

5 Questions That Will Help You Stay Ahead of Your Disruptors

Harvard Business Review

Organizations need to move away from externalizing traditional “kaizen” and move toward innovatively internalizing how customers define and describe successful UX.

It's Time to Rethink Continuous Improvement

Harvard Business Review

Six Sigma , Kaizen , Lean , and other variations on continuous improvement can be hazardous to your organization's health. While it may be heresy to say this, recent evidence from Japan and elsewhere suggests that it's time to question these methods. Admittedly, continuous improvement once powered Japan's economy. Japanese manufacturers in the 1950s had a reputation for poor quality, but through a culture of analytical and systematic change Japan was able to go from worst to first.

Every Fast-Growing Company Has to Combat Overload

Harvard Business Review

The leadership team at Norwegian put in place a kaizen (continuous improvement) system to gather ideas from the front line on how to improve and streamline operations and processes everywhere in the organization, and created extensive discussion forums and recognition for the best ideas.


Good Leaders Don't Use Bad Words

Harvard Business Review

While the nuances of "product" and "offer" or "customer" and "client" hold profound implications in English, truly understanding the meaning of, say, " kyosei " or " kaizen " in Japanese or " jeitinho " in Portuguese/Brazilian can also be sources of innovation inspiration. During a painfully dull futures workshop Down Under, a simple word change helped transform a stagnant discussion.

Being the World's Largest Ad Agency Might Not Be Something to Brag About

Harvard Business Review

Kaizen, Japanese for "continuous improvement," is Toyota''s self-described business model. Google''s All "Who Cares?". This week''s merger announcement between Omnicom and Publicis, two ad and marketing agencies with a combined 2012 revenue of $23 billion, involved glasses of champagne. But perhaps a jug of water would have been the more appropriate thirst-quencher for these industry giants'' long road ahead, even as the biggest agency in the world.

Hierarchy and Network: Two Structures, One Organization

Harvard Business Review

In fact, many critics point to change management processes, Kaizen initiatives, and the like as evidence that the Hierarchy can do change. Almost all companies organize people in a hierarchy, and then run well known managerial processes (planning, budgeting, staffing, measuring, etc) with it.

Why Management Ideas Matter

Harvard Business Review

An idea can change an entire industry and ideas, from kaizen to the balanced scorecard , continually transform the way we work and lead our businesses. Who is the most influential living management thinker? That is the question that the Thinkers50, the biennial global ranking of management thinkers , seeks to answer. The results for 2011 are published today — 14 November. But does the ranking or the ideas it celebrates really matter? It's a fair question.