Kaizen DMAIC principle

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Russian: Принцип Кайдзен



Kaizen is defined by James P. Womack as the basic Lean principle.[1]. Word ‘kaizen’ is composed of two Japan characters: KAI – ‘change’ and ZEN – ‘mood-growth’ or ‘the best’. In Japanese, the word ‘kaizen’ means continuous improvement: change for the better, change for the better. Kaizen focuses on is continuous improvement of processes, development of auxiliary business processes and controls. It initiates changes in all business cycle stages of the company in order to increase its value and reduce losses. Criteria for improvement are quality, cost and delivery (QCD). All team members are involved in the process of improvement from workers till top-management [2].The central idea of kaizen is that without improving standardized actions and processes in the company should not be held any day. Kaizen - this is the umbrella under which hid most of the unique Japanese practices of governance, has earned worldwide recognition [3].

Kaizen history

First kaizen philosophy has been applied in a number of Japanese companies (including Toyota) in the recovery period after the Second World War. In this period there were basic concepts, such as: JIT (Just in Time), 5S, quality circles, ZD (Zero defects), TQC / SQC (Total quality control / Statistical Quality Control), TQM (Total quality management), SMED (Single-Minute Exchange of Dies), TPM (Total productive maintenance), to have made a huge contribution such famous figures as W. Edward Deming, Tai chi Ono, Shigeo Shingo. As a synthesis approach, Mr. Masaaki Imai proposed Kaizen. The term ‘kaizen’ became widely known in 1986 when the first book by Masaaki Imai ‘Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success’ was published in English [4].In 1993, the term ‘kaizen’ was included into the new edition of New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, which defines kaizen as continuous improvement of methods of work, personal effectiveness, and so on, that is, as a philosophy of business.

Kaizen principle

Various authors identify different number of key kaizen principles. Masaaki Imai in his book ‘Gemba Kaizen: The way to reduce costs and improve quality’ identifies the following fundamental tenets

Kaizen and management. In the context of kaizen's management functions are: maintenance and improvement. Maintenance - are actions to ensure the existing technological, organizational and operational standards, and support for such standards through training and discipline (standard operating procedure, SOP). Improving consists of all actions designed to upgrade existing standards. Japanese view of management is thus reduced to a single prescription: to maintain and improve standards.

The process, not the result. Kaizen focuses on process-oriented thinking, because in order to improve the results, it is necessary to improve the process. Failure in achieving goals indicates a failure in the process. Management must identify and correct any errors.

Follow PDCA / SDCA cycle. The first stage in implementing kaizen is to follow the ‘plan-do-check-action’ (PDCA) cycle as a mechanism to ensure kaizen to achieve and maintain the policy of standards improvement. Before you start using PDCA, each current process must be stabilized by the series of ‘standardized do-check-actions’ (SDCA).

Quality – the first and foremost. Among the primary goals (quality, cost, delivery) quality has always be given the highest priority.

Speak with data. Kaizen - the process of solving problems. They should be identified, measured and analyzed in order to address correct actions to right instrument.

Next process is represented as a consumer. Each operation included into the chain of processes has both a supplier and a consumer. According this principle consumers are acting as internal (within the company) and external (market) agents.

To achieve the kaizen goals following systems are recommended to be applied in the company:

  • total quality control / total quality management (TQC / TQM);
  • production system Just in Time (JIT);
  • total productive maintenance (TPM);
  • Policy deployment / Hoshin kanri. Management is responsible for setting clear objectives for each employee and have to support personal development aimed at achieving these objectives;
  • the system of submission of bids. Encourage employees to supply a large number of proposals to improve, regardless of their significance;
  • small groups. People work in small, informal, voluntary teams within the company, which are formed to perform specific tasks. The most common form of these groups - quality circles, designed to solve not only the problems with quality, but also cost, safety and performance.


  1. James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, Lean manufacturing. How to get rid of waste and to achieve prosperity of your company - M.: Harvard Business Review, 2005
  2. Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense, Low-Cost Approach to Management. McGraw-Hill, ISBN-10: 0070314462
  3. Masaaki Imai. Kaizen: The Key to the success of Japanese companies. McGraw-Hill, ISBN-10: 007554332X
  4. Masaaki Imai. Kaizen: The Key to the success of Japanese companies. McGraw-Hill, ISBN-10: 007554332X

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