Kaizen is a management strategy that focuses on constant, process-oriented improvement (Imai, 1986)

Information about Kaizen

The challenge of rebuilding Japanese businesses from scratch after World War II, the oil crises of the 1970s and the resultant economic challenges that ensued in the '80s and '90s (for example, increases in the cost of raw materials and labour, increased international competition, changing consumer values and shorter product lifecycles) collectively provided the impetus for the rise of process-oriented management (and manufacturing) strategy of Kaizen. Various tools were introduced to Japan in the 1950s and '60s by American experts such as W.E. Deming and J.M. Duran, such as quality control, but these were subsequently developed in a very Japanese way so that Kaizen is now an umbrella term encompassing many management practices such as total quality control/circles, productivity improvement, zero defects, just-in-time and so on.

Return to Continuous Improvement topic.

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