Kaizen in Japan

Hari ini saya kebetulan sedikit sibuk dengan jadwal perkuliahan, selain itu saya harus mengumpulkan final assignment untuk mata kuliah Management of Technology and Venture Business. Jadi, berhubung saya sudah mengerjalan tugas paper tersebut dengan sedikit ngebut, tidak ada salahnya saya coba sharing paper tersebut disini dengan teman-teman semua. Mudah-mudahan bisa menjadi informasi yang berguna bagi kita semua, yaaa minimal bisa menambah RPU (Rangkuman Pengetahuan Umum) kita, hahahaha…teman-teman yang seumuran saya pasti mengerti tentang RPU ini. Here is the paper, enjoy it broooo,…


An Overview of Kaizen in Management of Technology

Ofi Sofyan Gumelar



Introduction & Basic Principles

Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement through all aspects of life. Kaizen comes from two words, “kai” means change and “zen” means better. Another words, it mean changes for betterment or improvement. This philosophy assumed that our way of life including our working life, our social life, and our home life should be the focus of constant improvement efforts (Imai, 1987). This philosophy uses in all most in all aspect of life in Japanese culture, including offices, school and mainly in industries management. Kaizen has contributed greatly to Japan’s competitive success leading them as the great developed countries.

In business field, Kaizen or ‘continuous improvement’ is a policy of constantly introducing small incremental changes in a business in order to improve quality and/or efficiency. Kaizen emphasis on incremental and continuous improvement with the involvement of the entire workforce (Vineet, 2011). This philosophy involves participatory from all levels of business stakeholders, including top/seniors management, supervisors, and workers. This actors participatory comes from the assumption that they are the best people to identify room for improvement, since they see the processes in action all the time. This improvement also following the bottom-up line where specific ideas come from the frontline (workers). The continuous improvement means that Kaizen emphasis in process as well as results.

 Kaizen vs Innovation

There are some conceptual differences between Japanese (kaizen) and western innovation) management approaches. This can be formed from many features of Japanese cultures introduced in Kaizen principles. One things that can be assessed is the improvement processes happened in kaizen and innovation.

Kaizen can be differentiated from the innovation concepts based on their improvement. Innovation which was coming from western culture focused on a breakthrough of the process or scheme that has existed. The effect of innovation is short term and dramatic. It can be said as a jump steps in intermittent and non- incremental time. This innovation leads by one actors who invent something new coming from individual ideas and effort.

On the other hand, the improvement in Kaizen comes from the continuous process as result of small steps day by day. This is a long term and undramatic process since the improvement comes from small steps day by day. The changes are gradual and consistent with the involvement from all actors in the organization/business management. It can be said that this is a collective action rather that individual as innovation process. However, Kaizen philosophy and innovation have the similar purposes which is improvement on the quality/productivity for the best result. The process of Kaizen and innovation can be described with the figure 1.


 Figure 1.  The difference of Kaizen and Innovation

 In term of business operation, Kaizen can be seen as the complementary process from the western approach. When the concept of innovation is applied in the process of production, then kaizen improved in small steps during the company operated the production. The kaizen philosophy are also implemented in high and low technology level in the process of production (Hosono, 2009). This can be illustrated in the figure 2.


 Figure 2. Japanese Product Perception

 Kaizen Tools and Benefits.

There are large number of components in processes of Kaizen, such as 5S, Suggestion System, Quality Control Circles, Total Quality Control (TQC), Just in Time (JIT) system, Kamban System and many more. This tools born as the consequences of dynamic process in Kaizen’ implementation. The logical structure on concept of kaizen and the practice of kaizen principles are various in different company. Since that many tools was born based on their experiences. However, 5S is generally considered to be the most basic step for improving quality and productivity.

5S is a philosophy and checklist for good housekeeping to achieve greater order, efficiency and discipline in the workplace. It is derived from the Japanese words Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Straighten), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (Systematize), and Shitsuke (Standardize/Self-Discipline).

Beyond the concepts of Kaizen, there are several basic tools for quality control included Pareto chart, check sheet, control chart, cause and effect diagram, flowchart and scatter diagram. All of this tools usually introduced in every level of production for evaluation to make better efficiency production.

Some benefit that can be achieved from the implementation of Kaizen are resulted in improved productivity and quality, lower costs and high efficiency. Moreover, this concept can make employee work more effective since kaizen involved all the actors in the production process.



Imai, Masaaki. Gemba Kaizen. A commonsense Approach to a Continuous Improvement Strategy. Tokyo.1987.Retrieved http://www.mhprofessional.com/ downloads/products/ 0071790357/0071790357_chap01.pdf on Nov 24th, 2013.

Hosono, Akio.  Kaizen : Quality, Productivity and Beyond. Paper in GRIPS Development Forum. Tokyo. 2009. Retrieved http://www.grips.ac.jp/forum/pdf09/ Introducing_KAIZEN_in_ Africa.pdf on Nov 24th, 2013.

Vineet, Kr. An Overview of Kaizen Concept. VSRD-MAP.Vol.1 (3), page 120-125. Retrieved : http : www. Vsrdjournals.com/ ME/Issue/2011_11_Nov/ Web/ 4_vineet_Kr_518_ Research_Communication_Nov_2011_pdf on Nov 24th, 2013.

Ofi Gumelar

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