By Charles Alvarez , Contributor, the Price of Business Show. *Sponsored
W. Edwards Deming introduced what came to be called “ the Kaizen method” of quality improvement into Japanese manufacturing. This single method enabled the Japanese to evolve in a few years into a nation with a reputation for high quality manufacturing in virtually everyarea.
The word KAIZEN, in Japanese, means “continuous betterment.” We sometimes refer to this as the process of “Continuous and Never Ending Improvement” or CANEI. This approach to business is based on the belief that it is possible to get better at everything you do, continuously, withoutend.
A New Way ofThinking
When the Kaizen process is introduced, everyone at every level of the business is encouraged to look for ways to do their jobs, and produce their products or services, better, faster or cheaper. Management uses suggestion boxes, brainstorming meetings, bonus systems and constant encouragement to get everyone thinking, all the time, about how to conduct the business in a betterway.
Continuous improvement does not require great breakthrough ideas to revolutionize the way business is done, although these breakthroughs occasionally occur. Instead, you encourage “line-of-sight” improvements in every job. This line-of-sight approach is based on the belief that everyone can see little things they can do to improve their work in their own personalline-of-sight.
It Starts From TheTop
Encourage each person to find ways to do their jobs better, faster, and easier. Allow them the freedom to experiment with improvements, with no fear of criticism if they don’t work. Sometimes the greatest improvements occur as the result of a series of small experiments that were not successful.
You should stand back regularly and examine every product, service and process. How could you improve it in some way? How could you make it better, faster or cheaper? How could you get the same or better results faster, or at a lower cost? Never be satisfied or content with existing quality levels. Always look for ways to improve upon them. Brainstorm with your team regularly to generate ideas to cut costs, improve quality, increase sales and boost profits. Encourage everyone to think, all day long, about how they can do their jobs better. Make this commitment to continuous improvement a part of your corporate culture.
The total quality management movement (TQM) is based on carefully analyzing each step of every process, and then looking for ways to improve continuously in every area. One improvement in a key area can give you a competitive advantage in a toughmarket.
In a competitive business, if you don’t upgrade your quality, your competitors will upgrade theirs and take your business away. The fact is that whatever got you to where you are today is not enough to keep you there. Whatever you are doing today, you will have to be doing it considerably better a year from now if you still want to be in business.
Remember, your competitors are thinking day and night about taking your customers away and putting you out of business. The fastest and best way that they can do this is by offering competitive products at the same price, but at a higher level of quality. Your goal is to surpass them in the area of quality improvement before they surpass you.
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