Kaizen is a lean manufacturing tool that improves quality, productivity, safety, and workplace culture. Kaizen focuses on applying small, daily changes that result in major improvements over time.
Kaizen first surfaced during the effort to rebuild Japan after World War II. At the time, several U.S. business consultants collaborated with Japanese companies to improve manufacturing. The collaboration resulted in the development of several new management techniques, one of which was Kaizen. Kaizen comes from two Japanese words: Kai (improvement) and Zen (good). Over time, it became widely known as “continuous improvement.”
Unlike many business practices, Kaizen’s strength comes from requiring all workers—from the CEO to the shop floor assistant—to participate by making suggestions to improve the business.