Kaizen is a Japanese word. Its English translation means good change. This word is very commonly used in health care industry, psychotherapy, and many more industries. But then when it is applied to a workplace, it is meant to improve the function and to generate a good productivity. It also aims a to reduce and then eliminate waste. After the second world war, kaizen was introduced in many Japanese businesses. This lead to a growth and spread of kaizen throughout the world.
The literal Japanese dictionary states that kaizen means continuous or philosophy rather good change. So it basically means any improvement, large or small. And therefore, majority of industrial and business techniques are often labeled with good change. Kaizen is nothing but a daily process. Its main purpose is to go beyond only simple productivity improvement. It is know to humanizes the workplace and eliminate hard work and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using nothing but a scientific method and avoid wastage in the whole business process. This helps in increasing productivity.
People, right from the CEO to the clerk, all participate in the kaizen activities. For example at Toyota, it is generally a local improvement within a workstation or local area. This involves small groups in improving their own work environment and productivity. This kaizen activity generates quality management, frees human efforts through improving the productivity by using machines.
The kaizen delivers small improvement. The whole philosophy of kaizen is to make change and observe those changes. While today, in modern times, it is designed over a weeks time and is often referred as kaizen blitz. It is also known as a kaizen event. However, they are limited in scope. The issues that rise from them are typically used in later blitzes. Also a person who makes a large contribution in the successful implementation of kaizen during the blitz is awarded with zenkai award.