Kaizen is a continuous improvement process that targets small, incremental enhancements to existing processes, usually involving a large proportion of the work force of an organization. It is most commonly targeted at production processes but can be applied anywhere in an organization. The intent behind making these changes is to improve quality and efficiency levels throughout an organization. When followed for a long period of time, kaizen can result in significant enhancements to an organization that can strongly bolster its competitive position. There are two variations on the basic concept, which are:
- Kaizen blitz. This is a tight focus of kaizen activities on a particular process, with the intent of implementing a large number of small changes within a short period of time.
- Kaizen burst. This is the application of a specific kaizen technique on a process.
The basic process flow for enacting kaizen is to first assess an existing system, then plan the changes to be made, then enact the changes, and finally evaluate the results of the change. Kaizen facilitators receive training and certification before they are allowed to engage in kaizen activities.