Kaizen – The Philosophy of Continual Improvement

Many companies have different philosophies – one that’s a cornerstone of Japanese business thinking is Kaizen. Here’s the definition, as listed on dictionary.com

[kahy-zen] Noun

“A business philosophy or system that is based on making positive changes on a regular basis, as to improve productivity.”

What fascinating is that Kaizen was first introduced to the Japanese by the Americans shortly after World War II to help restore the country. American occupation forces brought in experts to help rebuild the country and they developed the Kaizen methodology which became a cultural phenomenon.  Since then, companies such as Toyota made the philosophy the core of their business operation – and credit it for making them the number one automotive manufacturer in the world and the thirteenth largest company on the planet.  In turn, Western companies such as the jet-maker Boeing and the construction vehicle producer Caterpillar have closely studied Toyota, mimicking their strategy of having a lean operation with few suppliers.

The philosophy of Kaizen is centered on daily improvement and productivity and is used both on the macro-and micro level in an organization – from the CEO down to the janitor, each employee must consistently improve and seek a better way at doing their tasks.  Business executives are not the only ones who use Kaizen, but people in the arts as well, from writers to illustrators.

It’s good for any business leader to contemplate what their philosophy is – and how their company embodies it. To ask themselves, why they are in their field in the first place?  How do they set themselves apart from the competition? – To strive for continual improvement each and every day.