Creating & Sustaining a world class excellence culture

Creating & Sustaining a world class excellence culture

Why do some organizations outperform their rivals? Why do people keep talking about TPS? What is that one thing that helps them to stay ahead in this competitive market?

Everybody knows that each and every organization have their own methods, tools, recipe for success. However one thing that is common for a long term & sustained success is creating a Kaizen® culture. Kaizen® is a Japanese word which means continuous improvement, not for one person, one day and at one place but for everyone, every day and everywhere.   Many organizations claim that they know what is Kaizen® or they have been doing Kaizen®& some of its strategies which are now known as Lean or Six sigma, they forget that they need to build a change ready organization that is customer focused, gemba oriented, people oriented and last but not the least believes in Kaizen® culture.

There is a clear need to build & sustain a culture focused on Kaizen® or continuous improvement. Although it’s not easy to move from tools to transformations and it can end in failure, “they succeed if you don’t give up.,” says our CEO, Jon Miller. If yourorganization recognizes that deploying akaizen culture will be a long journey of going through many changes from how people work and behave to how you develop leaders and solve problems, you will be successful. After all moving from tools to transformation is about continuously improving and making what is good today, better tomorrow.

What is needed is Focused Improvement. Let us make one thing clear right now i.e. Improvement is different from Focused Improvement. Improvement is like sunlight, lot of energy, but dispersed (wasted), small improvements, slow progress while in Focused Improvement the energy is concentrated & aligned, enable significant (large) improvements, small time required and there is a rapid progress. Also any improvement done by anybody is not Kaizen®. They are improvements but not kaizen. To put it in a straightforward language, extracting money by eliminating waste from process is kaizen. Kaizen® is process improvement which is large, done in strategically important areas, speedily and in a sustainable manner

  •   Using data, not opinion
  •   One step at a time – learning from experiments
  •   Using structured tools & routines, not anyhow

Direction of Change

To change culture, you have to change the gemba & change behaviors. Behaviors are the drivers of cultural change. It is all about developing people & leading differently. If you start improving the work areas & process, news behaviors start spreading and this reinforces behavior for cultural change.

For culture building, two aspects needs attention

One is People Deployment which is done through

  1. Kaizen® & Coaching kata
  2. Kaizen® Teian
  3. TWI – JM
  4. A Judicious mix

Second is Support by Change in Leadership routine by Daily Work Management.

The unseen management routines & thinking that embeds continuous improvement and adaptability across the organization – is Kaizen® Kata. What is visible is practices & tools and what is invisible is management thinking & routines. Therefore to succeed, understanding the Kata is more important than studying the practices & tools. Kaizen®kata is the routine for continual improvement – also a key feature of managing people everyday.

The Improvement Kata does not happen automatically or autonomously. Managers and leaders must work very hard every day to teach it and keep improvement going in an effective manner. Primary tasks of managers does not revolve around improvement per se, but around increasing improvement capability of people. Leaders should act like a teachers and focus on working on real problems.

Coaching Kata is about developing people not developing solutions. Practicing KAIZEN™ kata is an everyday job of everyone in an organization while practicing Coaching kata is every leader’s responsibility.

KAIZEN™ = improvement with ideas and not money

Teian = developing employees abilities to contribute ideas.

KAIZEN™ Teian is a proposal – using KAIZEN™ thinking. It is an act of offering something for acceptance, adoption or performance.

Please note Teian ≠Suggestions.


TWI – the countermeasure

TWI provides a systematic approach to sustain change & continuously improve by

  • Indoctrinating people into an ‘improvement’ frame of mind.
  • Teaching people how to identify opportunities for improving their jobs
  • Training people how to generate ideas to take advantage of these opportunities
  • Showing people how to get these ideas into practice right away
  • Create ownership for people to maintain standard work

TWI – Job instruction teaches supervisors how to quickly train employees to do a job correctly, safely and conscientiously

TWI – Job methods training teaches supervisors how to continuously improve the way jobs are done

TWI – Job relations training teaches supervisors how to develop and maintain positive employee relations to prevent problems from happening and how to effectively resolve conflicts that arise.

Our daily work life consists of un-ending fire-fighting & crisis management! We continue to keep working on the same problems that were solved by us earlier! We make improvements but are hardly able to sustain them for long! Establishing DWM routines is the essential starting step towards building a culture of continual improvement in the workplace.

Continuous improvement leaders should make sure that new behavior patterns are consistent with the new methodology. This includes a commitment by leaders/managers to remain engaged in the improvement process by going to the gemba and participating in KAIZEN™ journey. Such management behavior and actions are part of a successful company’s overall effort to regularly communicate the impact KAIZEN™ has on financial targets and how the employees’ contributions impact them.


Mr.Vinod Grover, Founding Director of Kaizen Institute India

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