KAI means “change.”

ZEN means “good.”

The meaning of the word KAIZEN is “continuous improvement.” KAIZEN is a philosophy whose purpose is to achieve improved quality and productivity, as well as production cost reductions, through continuous improvement in production or administrative processes.


The KAIZEN philosophy originated in Japan in the 1950s. After World War II ended, Japanese industry was in shambles and had to be rebuilt. Therefore, due to the initiative of Kenichi Koyanagi, it was decided to create the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE), and Dr. William Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran were invited to a number of its seminars. The contribution of these two scientists was crucial to the implementation of new production systems and methods, among which was KAIZEN, through which Japanese industry was reactivated and directed toward peaceful purposes.

KAIZEN uses the Deming Cycle as a tool for continuous improvement.

This methodology consists of the following steps:

Plan: in this phase, the team proposes a goal, analyzes the problem and outlines a plan of action.

Do: Once the plan of action has been outlined, it is executed and the events that occur due to its execution are recorded.

Check: After the plan is executed, the results are analyzed.

Act: Once the results have been obtained, a decision is made as to whether any changes are needed to improve the plan.

KAIZEN is perseverance and discipline.

Perseverance and discipline make KAIZEN different from other methods and turn it into a philosophy. After improving processes until a problem is solved, a team that uses KAIZEN makes improvements and optimizes processes continuously, without waiting for a problem to arise. With regard to commitment, it should be noted that KAIZEN is not only for operations and plant personnel. The commitment and discipline associated with KAIZEN begin with an organization’s management and involve every area. Therefore, KAYZEN is also applicable to sales, distribution, customer service, marketing, supply chains, etc.

Does KAIZEN require investment?

KAIZEN teams should improve day by day and, if the team finds a solution that requires an investment, it should be authorized and made by the organization. It should be noted that not every improvement involves a major investment. In most cases, it’s a matter of making simple changes in administrative or production methods that, despite their low costs, can make a significant positive impact on the organization.

How can KAIZEN help in one’s professional life and in the company?

KAIZEN is more than a method, it is a philosophy of behavior and work that, when put into practice, makes us better as individuals and professionals, as we improve our performance and become attentive to ways to review and improve processes in the areas in which we work in an organization. The strength of a company that adheres to the KAIZEN philosophy is that it has the competitive advantage of always seeking continuous improvement in its processes, looking to optimize them and to take full advantage of its resources. As a result, it is able to carry out its organizational plans effectively.

Autor: Dante Merino La Rosa

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