The topic for today is “continuous improvement”.
Read the text below to get the general idea:
Improving working standards and productivity along with optimizing operational processes with minimal costs, have recently become a very popular trend in modern companies. Originally from Japan, the Kaizen concept has recently won a wide recognition both in business and everyday life.
The Kaizen Method was created by dr. W. Edwards Demming, who was invited by Japanese industrial leaders to help rebuild Japan after World War II. Dr. Demming was later honoured by Emperor Hirohito for his acknowledged contribution to the development of the post-war country. The word “kaizen” can be translated into English as ‘a change for the better’. It has been coined out of two Japanese words kai (a change or to correct) and zen (good), meaning ‘a good change’ or ‘continuous improvement’. In a broader sense, kaizen is a long-term approach to work which aims at encouraging people to make regular, significant changes in standardized business activities, by eliminating unnecessary actions, in order to considerably improve efficiency and quality.
The Kaizen theory advocates: ‘do not accept the status quo’, but instead ‘start asking questions’. Getting better or making things easier seem to be the most important aspects of the method. Other guidelines include: improve your actions, involve thinking while working, remove any unnecessary obstacles, reduce the time spent on individual tasks, do not get distracted, plan your day carefully and do not waste energy on futile activities. The concept reflects the idea of work effectiveness and, in terms of company procedures or production, it is both functional and operational.
A fully successful implementation of the Kaizen method in an organization has to involve all employees, from the CEO to janitorial staff. When introduced accordingly, the system humanizes the workplace, eliminates hard work (‘muri’) and teaches people how to increase productivity, simply by suggesting improvements to already existing processes.
Summing up, the Kaizen approach is mostly founded on personal discipline, the willingness to implement changes, and teamwork. Only if applied together, the three elements can assure a smooth running of a business and bring substantial profits in the future.
Study the text carefully and choose correct options (a, b or c) for the sentences below:
1. The Kaizen method was invented by:
a) Japanese industrial leaders and engineers.
b) a friend to Emperor Hirohito.
c) dr. W. Edwards Demming.
2. The concept was developed:
a) after the Second World War.
b) before World War II.
c) in modern, contemporary companies.
3. The Japanese word ‘kaizen’ is equivalent to:
a) coins and aims in English.
b) ‘a good change’ in English.
c) ‘a continuous development’ in English.
4. The Kaizen philosophy can be applied:
a) only to big corporations in Japan.
b) both to life and business.
c) to small business entities around the world.
5. The Kaizen approach is aimed at:
a) improving working effectiveness and increasing profits.
b) encouraging employees to work more.
c) eliminating unnecessary changes.
6. The Kaizen method goes far beyond business management because:
a) it tends to fully accept the present situation at work.
b) it seems to suggest time limits for individual tasks.
c) in general it encourages people to become nonconformists.
7. According to the Kaizen theory:
a) employees waste too much time and energy on useless activities.
b) standardized, operational processes can always be improved.
c) functional procedures regarding production processes are futile.
8. Kaizen can be especially beneficial to organizations which:
a) have active middle-management and janitorial staff.
b) are able to engage in changes all the human resources.
c) want to teach people how to eliminate hard work.
9. The Kaizen approach puts a lot of emphasis on:
b) hard work.
c) working hours.
10. According to the Kaizen theory profits and productivity are directly related to:
a) human resources and their morale.
b) continuous changes taking place in a company.
c) waste disposal processes and procedures.
Watch the video The Toyota way… and tick the sentences which are correct according to the video:
1. Kaizen means continuous improvement. …..
2. At Toyota, there is not much space for any improvement at all. …..
3. Around 4% of Toyota’s annual turnover is invested back into the R&D. …..
4. Toyota materials are most important for customers. …..
5. Sustainable technologies are incorporated in Toyota factories. …..
6. Advanced Toyota systems improve safety and productivity. …..
7. Toyota drive systems are very unreliable. …..
8. At Toyota, stress is reduced during each operation. …..
9. Production lines are rarely monitored at Toyota. …..
10. Toyota products always meet customers’ needs. …..