tools along with people-orientation, the Kaizen philosophy takes root, and over
time becomes so ingrained in organizational culture that employees do not realize
that they are thinking in a Kaizen way; continuous improvement becomes a natural
part of working culture. Statistical and systematic approaches to problem solving
help in the maturity of Kaizen.
All the efforts of management and employees towards Kaizen must ultimately
lead to customer satisfaction. In Kaizen customer satisfaction in achieved through
improvements in quality, cost, and scheduling (right quantity and right delivery).
The relative priority among these measures are decided by the management by
setting goals depending on the actual study of customer preference or behavior, it
is the customer who actually sets the standards. The improvement of Q, C and S
is also related to maintaining the quality of upstream processes. Since the bulk of
the materials and parts are outsourced, it is very essential that Kaizen should be
extended to improving supplier relations and supplier operations. This is an
important area of management-oriented Kaizen. The scope of Kaizen in improving
supplier relationships include better/optimum inventory levels, reducing order
cycle time, improving quality of parts, reducing cost, and staggered precision
delivery as per JIT norms. Only when the supplier’s quality need not be checked,
can one say that the Kaizen relationship with the supplier has matured. Kaizen efforts
can be extended by joint project or task force teams working on issues like new
product development, resource-saving, energy-saving, paperless working, etc.
Unlike traditional management, focusing on short-term profits and sacrificing
or compromising on some quality features or cultural issues, a Kaizen-oriented
company pays a lot of attention to improving the culture continuously, however
subtle or latent the efforts appear to be. If the management through Kaizen at various
levels can maintain the momentum of improvement, the company will become
more productive, more competitive and cost effective, and will earn higher profits
in the long run. Kaizen efforts will lead to lower break-even points, making the
company more profitable. Measures to improve organizational culture may some-
times hurt short-term goals but in the long term it will help to create a more
resilient and competitive organization.
Jeffery K. Liker in his book The Toyota Way describes JIT in a simple way: “JIT is
a set of principles tools, and techniques that allows a company to produce and
deliver products in small quantities, with short lead times, to meet specific cus-
tomer needs. Simply put, JIT delivers the right items at the right time in the right
Properly deployed JIT becomes so powerful that even it allows a company to
be responsive to the customer needs even on of the day-to-day shifts in demand.
184 MACRO STRATEGY