Masaaki Imai coined the term Kaizen which translates into "change for the better" It is a philosophy of ongoing improvement. Kaizen is the Japanese word or version of Continuous Quality Improvement. (Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia [Wikipedia], 2006). "Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is a management approach to improving and maintaining quality that emphasizes internally driven and relatively continuous assessments of potential causes of quality defects, followed by action aimed either at avoiding decrease in quality or else correcting it an early stage" (The Quality Assurance Project [QAP], n.d). Quality is the meeting and exceeding of client expectations and goals. Quality will be achieved by meeting client needs. Success will be achieved if quality is effectively managed. CQI is the idea that an analysis of the process is the starting point rather than an analysis of the employee. CQI seeks to improve the process as oppose to blaming the employee for process flaws.
CQI works under the basis that improvement comes by small incremental changes using the scientific method (Iowa State University [ISU], 2005). CQI is about making changes and looking at the results then adjusting. This process makes CQI very flexible. CQI is also flexible in the sense that; large-scale preplanning and extensive project scheduling are replaced by smaller experiments in improvement, which can be quickly adapted as new improvements are suggested.
Steps to implementing the CQI system into action
Find a process that needs improvement; organize a team that has knowledge of the system needing improvement. Clarify knowledge of the process by flowcharting or data collection to facilitate effective decision-making. Uncover the underlying cause of variation and implement a variation control plan. Understand the needs of the clients or customers who are served by the system. Identify and define measures of success. Brainstorm potential change strategies for producing...