Kaizen: Building a Business Plan of Continuous Improvement

Essay by irishgent92University, Master'sA+, March 2004

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Creating a management plan for business operations is vital for all organizations. Although management directs the process it involves all levels of employees, from the top executives down to the production workers in order to be successful. One type of plan that is gaining continued exposure in the United States is the Japanese business plan called "Kaizen." This Case Study will look at how Kaizen can help a company develop a highly effective business plan and implement it successfully or make modifications to their current plan to improve performance by eliminating wastes.


From a small company just starting out, to the largest of corporations, Kaizen is limitless in its use. Kaizen is intended to utilize all employees and develop a program of continuous improvement, but more importantly should be looked at as a culture or philosophy (www.ciras.iastate.edu, 1999). Major topics that will be discussed in this paper are;

"«A history of Kaizen, where it originated and how it is being used in the U.S.

"«Getting the team started.

"«Identifying the common areas of waste.

"«The three building blocks for the Kaizen process.

"«Some examples of companies that have used Kaizen and the impact on management / process improvements that have been realized.

Kaizen provides a methodology for management planning that incorporates a team approach to determine opportunities for improvement, setting goals, and developing a plan of action.

Origins of Kaizen:

Kaizen is a combination of two Japanese words, KAI-which means change and ZEN- which means good. Together they mean improvement. Although the concepts of Kaizen did not reach the western world till about the mid-1980's, Kaizen has its "roots in the aftermath of World War II" (Cane, 1996). After the war America encouraged the nation to rebuild, much as it was doing in Europe. General MacArthur approached...