The Japanese word kaizen means "change for better", with inherent meaning of either "continuous" or "philosophy"
Kaizen means improvement, continuous improvement involving everyone in the organization from top management, to managers then to supervisors, and to workers. 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.
There is a lot of controversy in the literature as well as the industry as to what Kaizen signifies. Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy for process improvement that can be traced to the meaning of the Japanese words ‘Kai’ and ‘Zen’, which translate roughly into ‘to break apart and investigate’ and ‘to improve upon the existing situation’. The Kaizen Institute defines Kaizen as the Japanese term for continuous improvement. It is using common sense and is both a rigorous, scientific method using statistical quality control and an adaptive framework of organizational values and beliefs that keeps workers and management focused on zero defects. It is a philosophy of never being satisfied with what was accomplished last week or last year (5) ,(6) .Improvement begins with the admission that every organization has problems, which provide opportunities for change. It evolves around continuous improvement involving everyone in the organization and largely depends on cross-functional teams that can be empowered to challenge the status quo
The message of the Kaizen philosophy is that not one single day should go by in the firm without some type of improvement being made in some process in the company. Kaizen is everyone's job; it requires sophisticated problem-solving expertise as well as professional and engineering knowledge and involves people from different departments working together in teams to solve problems.
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.
The starting point for improvement is to recognize the need. So Kaizen principles emphasis problem-awareness and provide clues to identifying problems. When identified, problems must be solved, so Kaizen is also a problem-solving process. But, most of all, Kaizen is amanagement philosophy that forces higher standards at all levels of the organization by encouraging continuous improvement in all processes. Professor Hitochi Kume of Tokyo University compared quality control in the West and Japan:’’ I think that while control in the West aims at ‘controlling’ the quality and conformance to standards and specifications, the feature of the Japanese approach centers around improving (Kaizen) quality. In other words, the Japanese approach is to do such Kaizen systematically and continually .. Kaizen
approach is based on the premise that there is no perfection in a process, because no structure, product, or system ever achieves the ideal stage and where it can be improved by further reducing waste .