Kaizen means improvement, continuous improvement involving everyone in the organization from top management, to managers then to supervisors, and to workers. In Japan, the concept of Kaizen is so deeply engrained in the minds of both managers and workers that they often do not even realize they are thinking Kaizen as a customer-driven strategy for improvement. This philosophy assumes according Imai that ‘’our way of life – be it our working life, our social life or our home life – deserves to be constantly improved’’.
The essence of Kaizen is that the people that perform a certain task are the most knowledgeable about that task; consequently, by involving them and showing confidence in their capabilities, ownership of the process is raised to its
highest level. In addition, the team effort encourages innovation and change and, by involving all layers of employees, the imaginary organizational walls disappear to make room for productive improvements. From such a perspective, Kaizen is not only an approach to manufacturing competitiveness but also everybody’s business, because its premise is based on the concept that every person has an interest in improvement. The premise of a Kaizen workshop is to make people’s jobs easier by taking them apart, studying them, and making improvements.
The message is extended to everyone in the organization, and thus everyone is a contributor. So, when Kaizen for every individual could be an attitude for continuous improvement, for the company also be a corporate attitude for continuous improvement. As presented by Imai ,Kaizen is an umbrella concept that embraces different continuous improvement activities on an organization.
According to M. Imai, a guru in these management philosophies and practices , the three pillars of kaizen are summarized as follows:
2. waste elimination
and as he states , the management and employees must work together to fulfill the requirements for each category.
Tο be ensured success on activities on those three pillars three factors have also to be taken account:
2.the role of the supervisor,
3.the importance of training and creating a learning organization