(Reading time: 3 - 5 minutes)

Kaizen and Lean Management


Kaizen can be described as an “improvement spirit” or “practice that focuses on continuous improvement of a process”.

Kaizen can also be described as the combination of several tools and principles to improve the process and the way we deliver our goods or services to our customers.

Kaizen is a practice comprised under Lean Management methodology.

Kaizen Work Types

Kaizen describes 3 work types:

Valued Added:

These are the tasks that are directly related to the end product. These are the tasks that provide actual value to the customer and the ones they want to pay for.

Incidental Work:

These are the required tasks that supports the value added activities. But from customer's perspective these doesn't provide any value add..


These are the activities that does not generate any value to the customer.

What is Lean?

This is the methodology that eliminates waste and improves efficiency. Lean is used as one of the Kaizen practices to improve processes.

Value Creation and Work Management (Recommendations and key considerations)

First of all, an agreement of what is important must be established.

  • Goals
  • Priorities
  • Strategies

Having a Lean process means that you must be sure that your processes are generating what the client is expecting from you.

Also you need to ensure that your processes are stable and enrolled in a continuous improvement process.

Mentoring is critical for the success of any Lean initiative, everyone that participates in the delivery of services of goods in the chain value must acknowledge what they do is part of what the client receives and individually focuses on improving it so that their tasks are lean.

Acknowledge yourself and your team about the “purpose, process and people philosophy”.

Purpose, process and people philosophy

“Purpose, Process and People” philosophy is a reinterpretation/shift in the way managers should look how to create value for their customers. Following are few key s:

  • Purpose
    • there must be a complete agreement of why we are here and how we are helping each other to commit our goals in the benefit of our customers (internal and externals), this is often mentioned as those core values that are not written but they exist as part of the organization.
  • Create Processes
    • It is important to motivate each person to create the process that will help to solve the customer issues.
  • Engage People
    • Everyone concerned with the delivery of goods or services to the customer must be completely engaged and aware of their importance to the internal chain value and the results provided to the customer.

The purpose of your organizations must be clear, and must solve the customer needs.

Comparison between Modern Management and Lean Management

Modern Management

Lean Management

Focus on separate areas, not completely communicated and separated

Focus on the horizontal flow beginning with the engagement until the delivery to the customer

Quality directions coming from Top to Down

Quality Circles

Decisions are made far from where the problem is located

Decisions are taken through the dialogs with the people involved

Staff decisions

Improvements are taken with line managers and the staff

Go fast and jump straight to the solution

Go slow and attend the bottom line of the problem

Vertical Flow

Value Flow

The process is evaluated in separated parts

The process is evaluated and improved as a whole process from the beginning to the end

Transformational Leaders

These are the leaders who will communicate / spread the Kaizen ideas trough the organization.

Kaizen leader must know what “value” is for their customer and if not 100% clear he must go and ask which is.

The leader must be constantly looking in ways to make the work easier to their teams this is part of the “Go see” practice.

Primary Tasks:

  • He must shift his people mind into a “problem solver” state of mind.
  • He must align the job that is done with what is actually generating value to the customer and generates prosperity to the organization.

Kaizen Leader

  • Role of problem solver.
  • Demonstrate respect to everyone and make questions, in particular he/she must identify those hard questions that no one asks.
  • Manage adequately the sense of urgency.
  • Once a solution is found he/she deploys a prototype to make tests and validate that the solution found is correct.
  • The problems are not solved forever every process can be improved.
  • Go see-à Ask Why à Show respect            

Tips for Practitioners

For those practitioners who want to implement Kaizen in their companies, they must consider primarily integrating Kaizen as part of their daily life habit. Quality should be considered as part of the practitioner’s life.

Consider everything involved in Kaizen as a step by step process, it is not something that you can implement in one day.

As practitioner, be ready to break paradigms (paradigms understood as all those things that are stopping the improvements you want to do).

Lead and live through the example.

Author: Oxygen
Other articles by this author

Chillzee Tag Cloud

Let's Socialize

About Chillzee

Chillzee.com is an entrepreneurship portal.

The site provides informative topics on Organizational and Strategic needs.