Part I of II
“Improving Operational Efficiency” is one of the mantra for gaining competitive advantage. It has been the mantra in past and it is going to be the mantra for 2015 also. It has become a necessity not just for profits but also for long term success. Quality, Cost & Productivity improvement has become the keys for gaining competitive advantage. But how to achieve Operational Efficiency? Global competitiveness is putting tremendous pressure and organizations are facing many challenges to fulfill customer demand and carry out operations in a predictable manner. Therefore to be successful it is important to understand & have a proper operational excellence plan or an improvement roadmap which can support your overall business strategy. The operational efficiency can be achieved by adopting Kaizen/Lean concepts & methodologies. These concepts have changed the landscape of manufacturing/service organizations who have adopted it. Kaizen is a globally proven approach to drive and sustain an operational excellence culture within any organization. Kaizen helps organizations to improve its processes, quality, reduce waste and thus costs. Kaizen is the practice of continuous improvement. Kaizen was originally introduced to the West by Masaaki Imai in his book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success in 1986. Today Kaizen is recognized worldwide as an important pillar of an organization’s long-term competitive strategy.It was this book that helped popularize these learning’s in the Western world and introduces “Kaizen” into the global management vocabulary. Originally published by Random House in 1986, the book has remained primary resource for managers interested in the Kaizen concept of continual incremental improvement.
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As Imai San emphasizes, this is not complex idea so much as committed mindset – one that is constantly prepared to question the status quo and keep relentless focus on all aspects of business process or operations to see where efficiencies can be gained and waste eliminated. One of the most notable features of kaizen is that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time. However this has been misunderstood to mean that kaizen equals small changes. In fact, kaizen means everyone involved in making improvements. While the majority of changes may be small, the greatest impact may be kaizens that are led by senior management as transformational projects, or by cross-functional teams as kaizen events. Kaizen is continuous improvement that is based on certain guiding principles:
- Good processes bring good results
- Go see for yourself to grasp the current situation
- Speak with data, manage by facts
- Take action to contain and correct root causes of problems
- Work as a team
- Kaizen is everybody’s business
- And much more!
It is definitely the time when they should adopt strategy to help them embrace lean production.” Adoption of Kaizen mindset also ties neatly in with global shift toward reducing the environmental impact of business. That’s because “lean”, says Imaisan, is very focused on the reduction of waste (muda) and on optimizing resource use. Apart from this the managers should also focus on GEMBA or the place where the “real work” or value-adding action takes place, whether on the factory floor or hotel reception desk. The concept of GEMBA urges managers to walk the GEMBA so that they can get to know every part of the process, see the real problems and find real solutions, whether manufacturing or service delivery. But the problem is that GEMBA is seen as lowly and taken as fit for low-level or front line employees. Imai san says that organizations that adopt kaizen tend to have flatter management structures & people centric approach. It is more of an evolution than revolution. He also adds by saying that today managers are eager to teach tools and come up with all sort of tools and this is what distracts them from the real focus of identifying the problem or unnecessary details by going to the GEMBA. Maybe that is why Masaaki Imai states in his book, Kaizen: I would like here to propose KAIZEN as the overriding concept behind good management. It is the unifying thread running through the philosophy, the systems, and the problem-solving tools developed in Japanover the last 30 years. Its message is one of improvement and trying to do better.
Keep watching this space to read Part II of this subject.
P.S. If your leaders and colleagues are also interested in this subject, do them a favor and share this link. They may thank you for your concern and initiative.
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