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3K : The Secret of Standardization

3K says that what has been decided, must be followed exactly as per the standards.


KIMERAARETA KOTO GA – What has been decided

KIHON DORI – Exactly as per the standard

KICHIN TO MAMORU- Must be followed

Lets us take a small example of traffic rules, what if one person does not stop at the red light. There could be an accident involving 2 to 3 people. But what if no one stops at the red light, there will be chaos and lot of people will meet with accidents throughout the day.

Similarly if standards are not followed in a factory what will happen? There will be lot of defects. The product quality will be very poor. There will be accidents and lot of wastage due to rejections. However, the most important requirement is the standard. What are the requirements of a standard? A standard should be:

  1. Correct
  2. Clear & precise
  3. Easily understandable for instance, if the worker does not understand English, a standard written in it of no use.


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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If you want to improve, shut up and go to GEMBA!

Roughly translated, Gemba means “the real place”. The Gemba can be thought of as ground zero. It is not just the shop floor, it is the scene of the crime, it is being on location, or when considering Kaizen, it is the place where value is added.

Going to Gemba requires a deep curiosity to know what is really going on at the real place and not what you assume is going on, or what you heard is going on, but what is really going on. It requires a skills to “Observe” as to how the work is performed. The goal should be to understand the current reality of the situation more clearly. It also requires respect for people as you go to the real place where value is added and engage with the value creator. The words of Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho, “Go see, ask why, show respect” are now famous as basic lean principles.

What is 3G? 

3 G means that “In case of an abnormality, all the concerned members should actually go to the place where the problem has occurred, see the actual thing and take realistic action to solve the problem”. 

In Japanese language this point is compiled in 3 words:





The first and foremost approach to control any kind of abnormality is to correctly understand the facts and take suitable actions based on facts. Another essential thing is to have a very critical eye while observing things. The best approach is to go to the shop floor many times during the day to understand the problem rather than depending on feedback which may not be correct all the times.

For the most part, western management is aware that sustained continuous improvement must involve every employee and that top management must demonstrate their support for such programs, but the true value of the Gemba is often missed. Imai San advocates a paradigm shift such that engineers and managers are part of the Gemba. The Golden Rules of Gemba Management are:

Go to Gemba – when abnormality occurs

Check Gembutsu – Machine, Materials, Failures, Rejects, etc

Search for – Muda (waste), Mura (variation/inconsistency), Muri (strain/ burden on people & machines)

Speak with data – Take temporary countermeasures on the spot

Make Kaizen – Remove root causes

Standardize – Standardize to prevent recurrence

Another paradigm shift for western management that Imai San emphasizes is that Kaizen projects must improve Quality, Cost, and Delivery simultaneously. These can no longer be taken as independent with any one being sacrificed to improve another if companies are to remain competitive. QCD activities therefore must bridge such functions as research and development, engineering, production, sales, and after-sales service. Management activities in achieving QCD goals can be categorized as either maintaining or improving current standards. Maintenance activities are required when rejects from internal customers or returns from dissatisfied external customers occur. Either situation can usually be traced to issues arising in the Gemba. Here, managers must be concerned with determining the root cause and should implement the Standardize-Do-Check-Act derivation of Deming’s cycle. When seeking to improve the current standards, the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is used. Both adaptations along with relevant case studies are fully explained by Imai San.

Gemba is the real place where you can meet real people, identify real problem & offer real solutions.

Going to the gemba has become popular for the simple reason that it is powerfully effective. In today’s marketplace, every business is looking for ways to stay competitive. Imai Sans GEMBA KAIZEN book appeals to all levels of any organization implementing lean strategies to achieve performance results. Imai San has successfully brought it out of the training room and back to its roots in the Gemba.

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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The 30-year Journey of Kaizen Institute

Masaaki Imai

It has been 30 years since Masaaki Imai wrote “Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s  Competitive Success (McGraw Hill 1986)”, and the founding of Kaizen Institute. Future historians will no doubt mark this date in 1986 as one of the turning points in the progression of quality, productivity, and labour-­‐ management relations.


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I N D I Z E N ‘2015: The 6th National Convention on Operational Excellence (OE)

India has a great diversity in the maturity levels within different industries. There are some that are mature, but most pursue Operational Excellence (OE) in bits & pieces. They follow random, tool based, isolated improvements without effective employee engagement & without aligning efforts to serve business priorities.

IndiZEN 2015

Far too often the greatest challenge faced by the CEOs is “Sustaining Change”. This happens because of absence of structured process control, problem solving routines managed by those closest to the processes. The root cause lies in the following tendencies:

  1. Prevalent mindsets of ‘managing by results’. Traditional managers proudly proclaim themselves to be ‘result oriented managers’; never realizing that results are but a byproduct of processes!
  2. Prevalent tendency to treat people on the workplace without respect. Indian labor laws have created two classes of workmen, commonly described as ‘permanent’ and ‘contract’. The ‘contract’ manpower is temporary hands anyway; even the ‘permanent’ ones are not trusted enough to be allowed to control their own processes autonomously.
  3. Absence of ‘Standard Work’. Quality system requirements have brought in SOPs, but they are rarely prepared by users! They are made by engineers in English (not the local lingo), are full of text & confined to files – which emerge only during external audits! SOPs are not ‘Standard Work’.
  4. Visual Controls are not understood, & consequently, very poorly practiced. The visuals that are put up do not aid process ‘control’!


With its focus on Operational Excellence and theme of “Sustained Operational Excellence – Key to long-term success of ‘Make in India’, the India Business Unit and Global leader in Operational Excellence, Kaizen Institute is all set to present INDIZEN 2015, the 6th National Convention on Operational Excellence scheduled on 17th and 18th February @ Hotel Hyatt Regency, Pune, India.

Explaining about the theme for the event, Mr. Vinod Grover, Founding Director, Kaizen Institute India, said, “The Indian Prime Minister is passionately promoting ‘Make in India’ as one of the key components of his governments’ strategy to accelerate Indian economic growth. He also looks at this as a means to generating employment opportunities for millions of Indian youth entering the job market every year!

Initial investment in setting up manufacturing facilities has to be the current focus. However, unless the Indian made goods match up to the demand of quality, cost & delivery expected by the world market, all these opportunities will be short-lived. Being operationally excellent is a pre-requisite for global competitiveness. However, the real challenge is retaining the competitiveness for the long haul. There are hundreds of books that teach the tools of OE, but there are few that teach the tools/ methods/ practices/ of sustaining OE.

Given this background, Kaizen Institute India decided to explore the theme ‘Sustained Operational Excellence – Key to long-term success of ‘Make in India’ for IndiZen 2015.

About IndiZEN 2015

This event brings you an inspiring opening & closing keynote speakers, face-to-face Q&As with India’s leading Operational Excellence (OE) experts. There are three tracks in this two days event:

  1. Knowledge/ Learning tracks,
  2. Excellence Inside Tours(visit world class facilities/ factories as Seeing is Believing!), and the most awaited
  3. National OE Case Study Competition. This national convention will give you everything you need to be more focused, energized and successful in the domain of Operational Excellence.


We invite you to IndiZEN 2015, 6th National Convention on Operational Excellence where you can learn more about the “Sustained Operational Excellence”, share your learning & experience & network with like-minded people. IndiZEN 2015 is going to be the place to learn about the ways to sustain operational excellence. You will gain insights on how you can become an active learning organization and build the capability of your people by engaging their hearts & minds.

IndiZEN 2015 has become one of India’s most important annual gatherings of professionals and experts in the Operational Excellence/ Lean/ KAIZEN domain. IndiZEN 2015 will be the sixth edition, and is now accepted by the industry as the platform for leaders in the Operational Excellence domain to share, learn and network.

About Kaizen Institute 

Kaizen Institute is the Global Pioneer in the Operational Excellence domain with a presence in Thirty+ countries, with nearly three decades of Leadership in this domain. We have developed concepts, intellectual models and published books that are considered the industry gold standard. Round the globe we are supporting thousands of organization to implement their Operational Excellence/ Manufacturing Excellence/ Continuous Improvement/Lean strategies, dove tailing into their Business Excellence initiatives.

Block your dates, be there to learn & find the real key to Sustainability.

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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How to improve operations in 2015?Part II of II

Part II of II

Quick summary

Kaizen – the concept:Kaizen is defined as ongoing improvement involving everyone in the organization. Kaizen, according to Imai, is the basic philosophical concept underlying the best Japanese management. Kaizen is the umbrella concept that covers most of the uniquely Japanese management practices that have helped Japanese companies start from zero in the 1950s to become world class competitors in the 1980s. The graphic illustration below conveys the idea.

1 Kaizen concept

Source: Kaizen: The Keyto Japan’s Competitive Success, page no 4, figure 1.1

Improvement: Let’s see the difference between Japanese gradualist approach (Kaizen) to the great-leap-forward approach (Innovation) favored by Western companies.

2 Improvement

Source: Kaizen: The Keyto Japan’s Competitive Success, page no 24, figure 2.1

Kaizen by Total Quality Control: Total quality control depends on data, specifically data related to customers’ requirements, and recognition that the next process is the customer. In addition, quality drives profits. Thus management should focus on quality, as well as quantity, delivery time, safety, cost, and employee morale. When problems occur, workers should question the previous process and ask why five times. Total quality control should be customer-oriented, not manufacturing oriented. When problems and defects are created upstream, the downstream customer suffers. Therefore the emphasis is on cross-functional quality management including vendors, suppliers, subcontractors as well as all internal activities.

Let’s see PDCA continuous improvement approach below:

3 total quality control

Source: Kaizen: The Keyto Japan’s Competitive Success, page no 76, figure 3.2

Kaizen – the practice: Let’s see how Kaizen is used at different levels within the organization. This is referred as three segments of Kaizen. The following graphic illustration provides a fairly good summary of the ideas presented in this chapter:

4 total quality control

Source: Kaizen: The Keyto Japan’s Competitive Success, page no 81 – 82, figure 4.1

Cross functional management:Although a lot of emphasis is placed on quality and cost, meeting schedules in terms of volume and delivery is perhaps even more important. Scheduling requires a tremendous cross-functional effort. Imai san provides a matrix to show how cross-functional management is required for scheduling and delivery, as well as quality and cost. It shows that quality, cost, scheduling and delivery need to be considered at every stage including product planning, product design, production preparations, purchasing, manufacturing, and sales. The illustration below shows how the marketing, engineering, and production functions need to be involved at various stages of the process, rather than each function doing their part and then dumping their work onto the next function downstream.

5 cross functional management

Source: Kaizen: The Keyto Japan’s Competitive Success, page no 132, figure 5.5

Kaizen approach to problem solving: It is important to define a problem and indicate how problems should be viewed if the implementation of a Kaizen strategy. First a problem is anything that inconveniences people downstream including downstream processes as well as the ultimate customer. The thing that makes problems difficult to solve is that the people who create the problem are usually not the ones who experience the resulting inconvenience. The first step in the kaizen approach to problem is to create an environment where everyone is sensitive to the inconveniences they cause other people. Another key idea is in how a problem is viewed by everyone in the organization. A Kaizen oriented organization views problems as opportunities for improvement rather than as something to be hidden for fear of being blamed for the cause. Another related point is that most problems are cross-functional and their solutions require cross-functional cooperation.

Top management commitment:The main points in this section include: Quality is everybody’s job and poor quality means poor management. Management’s short-term results oriented thinking must be replaced with a longer-term view since Kaizen efforts take three to five years to produce results. A Kaizen strategy must come from the top. Improvement is needed in many different areas and a commitment from top management is essential to build a climate for Kaizen. Some additional points are illustrated in the following graphic.

6 total management commitment

Source: Kaizen: The Keyto Japan’s Competitive Success, page no 205

Changing the corporate culture:Imai san says that the need to improve supplier relations and emphasizes that a successful Kaizen strategy means customer satisfaction. Improved relations with suppliers require more understanding of each other’s needs, and developing more trust between buyer and seller. Another point is that companies need to change the way they think about defects from a percentage basis to a parts per million basis. As one observer pointed out, executives who think of defects in terms of percentages belong in a museum. A Kaizen strategy requires that everyone in the organization get involved and this requires the right corporate culture. Developing the appropriate culture means constant efforts to improve industrial relations, emphasis on training workers, developing leaders among the workers, small-group activities, recognition for worker’s Kaizen efforts, and bringing discipline to the workshop.

Imai san defines corporate culture as “factors of industrial structure and psychology that determine the company’s overall strength, productivity, and competitiveness in the long term; such factors include organizational effectiveness, industrial relations, and the capacity to produce quality products economically.” Managers who are mainly concerned with short-term profits will be reluctant to spend time improving the company’s culture. Kaizen requires a commitment from top management and everybody else in the organization.

Many concepts and techniques have been developed by Japanese companies using a Kaizen strategy including a customer oriented philosophy, the PDCA cycle, cross-functional management, policy deployment, process oriented thinking, and tools such as systems diagrams, and quality tables3. These concepts, techniques and tools are also applicable in business organizations in other countries and in nonprofit and government organizations as well. The goal is for the Kaizen strategy to be applied, not only in business organizations, but in all institutions and societies all over the world.

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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