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Gemba Kaizen

A Common Sense Approach to a Continuous Improvement Strategy

By Masaaki Imai
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Gemba Kaizen by Masaaki Imai

Gemba Kaizen (1997) is an introduction to the Japanese business philosophy of Kaizen, which revolutionizes working standards to reduce waste and increase efficiency at little cost. Author Masaaki Imai reveals the aspects of Kaizen that are crucial to building lean business strategies.

Key idea 1 of 8

Gemba Kaizen is a low-cost strategy that increases productivity by involving employees to help eliminate nonessential steps.

So, you want your company to become more productive. Perhaps you’ll hire a specialized consultant, or invest in some new equipment. But increased productivity isn’t necessarily achieved by adding more. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite.

The Gemba Kaizen strategy guides you to greater productivity through elimination. When we analyze working processes, we often find several elements that consume time and energy without contributing anything to the end product.

These wasteful elements are called muda. By eliminating muda, we can free up resources, which in turn can be put to more effective use. For instance, muda could be overproduction, or the waiting time created by inefficient transportation. Even the time you spend walking from A to B is muda!

In fact, the notion that walking is wasteful sparked radical improvements in a US hospital. Through clever design, the distances staff had to walk were reduced by several miles. Employees subsequently completed 100 percent of their tasks in half the time!

Employees don’t just benefit from Gemba Kaizen efficiency – they’re also responsible for creating and implementing strategies. Employees, not managers, are in charge of the day-to-day work that presents the most opportunities for improvement.

That’s why Gemba Kaizen regards employees as the real experts. With employees playing the central role in boosting your company’s productivity, there’s no need for an external consultant or costly innovations. Instead, Gemba Kaizen expects every employee and every manager in a company to stay on the lookout for possible ways to improve working processes.

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