Kaizen | Six Sigma | Lean Management | Training & Consulting | Operational Excellence

Global Leader & Pioneer in Kaizen/Lean/Operational Excellence domain

Leave a comment

You don’t win if you don’t begin

Indian organizations turn to Kaizen to cut waste& focus on continuous improvement.

 To maintain a strategic advantage in this highly competitive region, business leaders must have the financial tools to translate their corporate mission into performance targets, align their organization in pursuit of those goals, and accurately measure and monitor their progress.

 Organizations today are being impacted by multiple forces (internal & external) and is under an unprecedentedpressure to improve &perform. The key to performance lies in anticipating the future and workingtowards it. This means asking the question like How much to produce, How much to invest in in activities like R&D, quality and processimprovement, and so on?


 What is the record of Indian organizations when it comes to continual improvement?While

impressiveimprovements have beenmade by feworganizationsbut not the entire Indian industry. It ismostly the MNCs, driven by their worldwide processes that have been at the forefrontof improvement. There have been some Indian organizations too doing a good job but themajority seems to be ill-prepared to meet requirement.

So now the bigger question is should organizations strive for breakthrough developments or focus on continuous improvement?

 “It is not the strongest who survive nor the most intelligent — but those mostresponsive to change” (Charles Darwin). If this is true, are the Indian organizations doingenough to respond to the changing times? It’s time to examines the Indian

scenario in the manufacturing and services sector. While many organizations are adaptingfast, there are many that are still to awake to the changing times.

 Kaizen has made impressive inroads in to the manufacturing and service sectors. Organizations have finally realized the difference betweenseeking an ISO certification and launching a process to improve continuously or taking the journey of Kaizen/Lean/Operational excellence. Organizations have also been using variations of the businessexcellence models to drive their continuous improvement efforts.Continuous Improvement is the on-going effort to improve products, services and processes by making small, incremental improvements within a business. It is based on the belief that these incremental changes will add up to major improvements over time and it is as much about tactics (i.e. specific improvements) as it is about changing the culture of the organization to focus on opportunities for improvement rather than problems. 

 There are many reasons that go into making process improvement the mostchallenging exercise. As we move into the 21st century, what are the key traits required in an organizationto achieve excellence?

 These are as follows:

–      having key customer insights

–      focusing business strategies on customer value

–      quality commitment

–      upgrading knowledge and processes

–      management by facts and feedback.

In the Indian scenario, it is mainly the MNCs, driven by their global processes, that

are driving business excellence. The same culture needs to be cultivated by the Indian

organizations be they large or medium ones.

“Organizations are expected to increase focus on operational efficiency and cost reduction measures, as well as on risk management,” the bi-annual ‘Capital Confidence Barometer’ survey said.



Hoshin Kanri

Strategic approach to Continuous Improvement

There are ways of looking at India’s present economic woes marked by a rapid fall in the value of the rupee caused by persistent inflation of the past few years and the high current account deficit (CAD) of about $85 billion (4.5 per cent of GDP) which needs to be funded through uncertain capital inflows year after year.  Based on data with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), about a quarter of the $300 billion in foreign debt owed by Indian corporations is short-term loans due to be repaid in a year, according to Daljeet Kohli, head of research at India, Nivesh Securities. But what is important right now for organizations is to become more localised, more competitive. Whether it is Quality, Cost, Delivery, Morale or Safety – you have to be the better then your competitor in some way. There has to be some reason why customers will select you against your competitor. If you stay discipline, focused, keep on getting better every day and aim at pockets of activity you can have decent numbers. But if you stand still or don’t improve and hope for the tide to take you back for a ride, probably that wouldn’t be a good idea.

Hoshin Kanri can be one of the proven means by which this can be achieved when competition is stiff and pressures are mounting on your organization. It is a systematic approach that can be applied to grind down even the most severe competition.  Hoshin Kanri is also called Policy Deployment. It is a method devised to capture & cement strategic goals as well as flashes of insight about the future & develop the means to bring these goals into reality. In Japanese, hoshin means “shining metal”, “compass”, or “pointing the direction”. Kanri means “management” or “control”. The name suggests how hoshin planning aligns an organization toward accomplishing a single goal.


Hoshin Kanri is intended to help organization:

– Focus on a shared goal
– Communicate that goal to all pillar heads
– Involve all pillar heads in planning to achieve the goal
– Hold participants accountable for achieving their part of the plan

It is also used to:

– Prioritize action areas to ensure that we are focusing on those that will impact our overall goals
– Provide clear measures to judge how each action is impacting “closing the gaps” on the goals
– Allow each individual being called on to contribute to link his efforts to the top level goals of the    Company

The tool is used at multiple levels within the Company:

– Each level is developed from the level above
– The process includes a simple reporting procedure that gives simple visual management to   evaluate progress


Policy deployment is not an end in itself not it’s a magic or too complicated. Policy deployment matrix can be used to decide on where to allocate resources and how to measure their impact on what’s important to the business. The Policy Deployment Matrix forces the key Questions to be addressed in a structured way for everyone to be aligned to the same goals and to share the same vocabulary as to what those goals really mean. Policy deployment matrix is reviewed periodically in order to view the progress towards the strategic Vision & Mission.  Review business fundamental metrics monthly to ensure that performance is trending in the right direction. Review the annual plan quarterly to ensure that the plan is still the right plan.

In a nutshell Hoshin planning is a process in which you perform following management tasks: 

  1. Identify the key business issues facing the organization.
  2. Establish measurable business objectives that address these issues.
  3. Define the overall vision and goals.
  4. Develop supporting strategies for pursuing the goals. In the Lean organization, this strategy includes the use of Lean methods and techniques.
  5. Determine the tactics and objectives that facilitate each strategy.
  6. Implement performance measures for every business process.
  7. Measure business fundamentals.


Benefits of implementing KAIZEN in Healthcare

The Healthcare industry is facing mounting challenges;

  • increasing demand on services,
  • increasing cost of materials,
  • staff shortages,
  • increased stress on staff,
  • the potential for mistakes has increased as procedures have become ever more complex
  • increased dissatisfaction from patients because of long waiting times and poor perceptions of the care received
  • financial restraints from government.


 Benefits of Implementing Kaizen/Lean in Healthcare

 Improved quality of healthcare delivery and safety

  • Improved housekeeping / hygiene
  • Fewer mistakes, accidents and errors resulting in better patient care.

– Improved delivery and/or throughput

  • Due to lean employees flow or pull system of information and materials, each patient is worked with, one unit at a time and passed on for the next step of the process without any delay. All blockages and obstacles to flow are identified and removed in lean, hence, the number of patients attended to will increase while working with same equipment in the same facilities by just working on the processes. Work will be done faster.
  • Improved FLOW of treatment to patients – in time, in full, error free!

– Accelerating momentum

  • Creating a stable working environment with a clear vision, standardized procedures that create the foundation for continuous improvement to attain world class performance.
  • Standardizing processes and improving flow to make sure emergency patients are treated with the right protocols without major delays.
  •  The entire healthcare workforce becomes motivated and understands that, when they are at work, they are actually identifying, creating and delivering value for their patients and nothing else and feels to be part of the success.
  • Reducing waiting time for patients; patient check in & check out time & admin efforts to do so.

– Improvements in store/ pharmacy

  • Ensuring pharmacies have optimum level of stocks that medications are never stocked out at the point of use & to avoid losses due to expiry of drugs etc
  • Error proofing processes to help prevent medication errors
  • Better laboratories layout and processes to give test results to physicians and patients in dramatically faster times — measured in minutes instead of hours.

Leave a comment

The foundation of the house of gemba – Part 3

Building self-discipline

Needless to say, self-discipline is a cornerstone of the house of gemba management. Self-disciplined employees can be trusted to report on time to work; to maintain clean, orderly, and safe environments; and to follow the existing standards to achieve QCD targets. Ways of helping employees acquire self-discipline:


  1. Reward incremental steps
  2. Catch them doing it right
  3. Open yourself to questions
  4. Develop a culture that says let’s do it!
  5. Make the process known to improve standards
  6. Conduct assessment
  7. Encourage customer involvement
  8. Implement a suggestion system
  9. Establish quality circles
  10. Build in reward systems
  11. Communicate expectations clearly
  12. Conduct frequent reviews of the process
  13. Provide measurement feedback
  14. Foster a climate of cooperation
  15. Give specific instructions regarding criteria
  16. Be involved in setting standards
  17. Explain why
  18. Set a good example
  19. Teach how and why
  20. Make progress displays visible
  21. Remove barriers
  22. Encourage positive peer pressure
  23. Create a threat free environment

When employees in the gemba participate in such activities as housekeeping, muda elimination, and review of standards, they immediately begin to see the many benefits brought about by these kaizen, and they are the first to welcome such changes. Through such a process, their behaviors as well as attitudes begin to change. An employee who has participated in reviewing and upgrading the standard of his or her own work naturally develops ownership of such a standard as a result and willingly follows such a new standard.

In the same manner, employees eventually come to develop self-discipline as they engage in other kaizen projects and learn by doing such things as elimination of muda and visual management. Thus self-discipline translated into “everybody doing his or her own job accordingly to the rules that have been agreed on.” Self-discipline is a natural byproduct of engaging in gemba kaizen activities. 

Acknowledgment; Gemba Kaizen by Sensei Masaaki Imai

Aots Alumni Association of Gujarat

Leave a comment

Aots Alumni Association of Gujarat

As the President of the Gujarat chapter of the AOTS Alumini Association of Gujarat (AAAG), Jayanth Murthy met with the India head of HIDA of Japan Mr.Mitani & Mr.Mori a HIDA expert and Mr.Kunal of DMIC. Discussions focused on the skill related challenges faced by Gujarat based industries and how the chapter can organize more activities to hone these skills.

Leave a comment

The foundation of the house of gemba – Part 2

Suggestion System & Quality Circles

Important parts of the structure of the house of gemba are the suggestion system and quality circles – proof that employees are actively involved in kaizen and that management has been successful in building the kaizen infrastructure. There are marked differences between the suggestion systems practiced in Japan and those in the west.


Whereas the America – style suggestion system stresses the suggestion’s economic benefits and provides financial incentives, the Japanese style stresses the morale-boosting benefits of positive employee participation. Over the years, the Japanese styles has evolved into two segments: individual suggestion and group suggestions, including those generated by quality circles, jishu kanri (JK or “autonomous management”) groups, zero defects (ZD) groups, and other group based activities.

Suggestion systems are currently in operation at most large manufacturing companies and at about half the small and medium size companies. In addition to making employee’s kaizen conscious, suggestion systems provide an opportunity for the workers to speak out with their supervisors as well as among themselves. At the same time, they provide an opportunity for management to help the workers deal with problems. Thus suggestions are a valuable opportunity for two way communication in the workshop as well as for worker self development.

Generally speaking, Japanese managers have more leeway in implementing employee suggestions than their western counterparts. Japanese manager are willing to go along with a change if it contributes to any one of the following goals:

  1. Making the job easier
  2. Removing drudgery from the job
  3. Removing inconvenience from the job
  4. Making the job safer
  5. Making the job more productive
  6. Improving product quality
  7. Saving time and cost

The outlook of Japanese management stands out in sharp contrast to the western manager’s almost exclusive concern with the cost of the change and its economic payback. The implications of standardization have been mentioned often in the book. When gemba employees participate in gemba kaizen and come up with new and upgraded standards, they naturally develop a sense of ownership of these standards and therefore will have the self discipline to follow them. If, on the other hand the standards are imposed from above by management, gemba employees may show psychological resistance to following them. It becomes an “us v/s them” issue. This is another reason why it is so crucial to involve gemba people in such kaizen activities as suggestion systems and quality circles.

Acknowledgement; Gemba Kaizen by Sensei Masaaki Imai