<transcy>Kaizen: The Key to Increasing Productivity</transcy>

Kaizen: The Key to Increasing Productivity

Jacobo Bedia Ajo1/22/19

In a world as competitive as the business world, there is a common desire to win, that need to be the first ... the best. This desire for improvement cannot be achieved without channeling the effort towards the appropriate work philosophy. If there was a path that could lead your company towards the productivity that you have always wanted to achieve… Would you dare to abandon your old habits to try it? Would you accept the Kaizen challenge?

The Japanese word "Kaizen" means change for the better. It is much more than a form of business organization. It is a lifestyle that pursues continuous improvement through adaptation to changes. It is integrated into the Lean Manufacturing industrial management system that encourages the reduction of waste or sterile expenses for the sake of increased productivity. In this way, the Kaizen philosophy becomes a Lean tool for the greater efficiency of the processes carried out by companies, bringing the constant evolutionary spirit of the Eastern cultural tradition closer to the West. Western thinking is very focused on stability, on the application of certain principles to obtain results. However, societies, technological development and innovation are constantly advancing. Applying the same actions over and over again, remaining static in an environment that evolves so rapidly, it seems logical to deduce that the results will not be encouraging. To get a better performance it is necessary to surf the wave instead of waiting to avoid it.

The Kaizen methodology will allow us to be on the crest of the wave and stay on it. This way of life has a decalogue of keys that allow us to welcome changes with a positive attitude and easily adapt to them. Nature is the best Kaizen example. The strongest species do not survive in it, but only those that best adapt to the variations that occur in the natural environment. The same thing happens with people and companies. Fortunately, gradually developing and practicing these ten principles, your business will stop fearing the unforeseen and will transform them into new opportunities:

  • Say "NO" to the current state of affairs. In Western society, individuals are trained in the benefits of acceptance. If you can improve a situation that does not satisfy you ... Why would you have to settle for leaving everything as it is? Accepting that circumstances are immovable is comfortable but it subdues us and keeps us mired in defeatist attitudes. Don't you prefer to change what you don't like?

  • Good ideas come when things get tough. Difficulties are often viewed as stressful obstacles. If you are able to put the initial tension aside for a moment, you will appreciate that this complication provides you with the opportunity to seek new ways to channel the process that you have been going through mechanically for a long time. The stone that you might trip over on the way encourages you to chart new paths to make new discoveries.

  • Don't look for excuses, find the solution. Wasting your time explaining that the delivery truck has broken down will not solve the problem of the customer who needs the goods at the destination on time. Finding a way to get it to the buyer on time will be far more productive than any apology.

  • Don't be obsessed if it's not perfect: start. Don't worry if you only get to 50%. Perfection does not exist. It is an abstract and subjective concept that depends on who values it. It is not a real goal. Achieving half of what is expected will be much more profitable than doing nothing for fear of not achieving an inaccessible goal.

  • If something doesn't work, correct it on the spot. On site and with all the information in hand, it will be much easier to find the ideal solution.

  • Get rid of old assumptions. If you always do the same thing, you will not get different results. Forget what you have taken for granted from the beginning and learn to question yourself. You will find new avenues of action that can help you be more productive.

  • The best solution is not always the most expensive. Who does not know a colleague who bought the most expensive device he found because he assumed it would be the answer to his prayers and has turned it into a useless junk that collects dust on his desk because it does not match his expectations? A high price does not guarantee miracles. A tool that the subject understands and handles properly will work wonders assuming less costs and headaches.

  • Seek the wisdom of the team rather than an individual idea. Sharing impressions always arise new ways of facing situations. Four eyes always see more than two.

  • Do not stop searching for the real cause and then find the solution . If you come to understand the cause that generates an unforeseen event, you will not only be able to solve it but you will be able to foresee it and tackle it much more effectively.

  • Continuous improvement is endless. As reality is constantly changing, the opportunity to evolve is always present. It does not demand impossible, it just needs some of your dedication.

Some illustrious figures of European culture in the past already announced the need to embrace the principle of adaptation in the purest Kaizen style. The French writer and fabulist Jean de La Fontaine shelled it in his work "The Oak and the Reed." Faced with inclement weather, the robust and immovable oak was torn from the ground while the weak but flexible reed managed to withstand the storm without breaking. Flexibility and the ability to adapt to the environment outweighed more robust static. La Fontaine advocated the Kaizen lifestyle in 1668 and he was right. More and more Western companies are implementing this Eastern philosophy to approach their businesses from another perspective and thus increase their profits. Most companies access Kaizen knowledge through the implementation of a Lean Manufacturing methodology. When they decide to apply the Lean method in their companies, as an industrial management system focused on avoiding waste to increase productivity, they discover that there are tools focused on continuous improvement such as the Kaizen philosophy, which encourages improvement through constant adaptation to the novelties in the surrounding circumstances. Free from the barriers of thought and fear of change ... the benefits are endless.