Before we jump into how to implement the Kaizen Method, let’s take a look at the history of Kaizen and the benefits of using it with your team.

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen, a Japanese term, has come to be known in the business world as ongoing change or continuous improvement.

“Kaizen is a compound of two Japanese words that together translate as “good change” or “improvement,” but Kaizen has come to mean ‘continuous improvement’ through its association with Lean methodology.” (source)

Since improvement is usually ongoing, it works well for businesses who need to continuously get better as they work. Toyota was one of the first companies to implement the Kaizen Method and were so successful that the process started to make its way to other businesses and elsewhere. (source)

Kaizen is often related directly to Lean Development, which is a form of Agile. Lean Development strives to eliminate any possible waste from the work process — narrowing work down to only what is necessary to get the job done in the most efficient way possible. Waste can be anything from taking too much time to do something (or taking time where nothing is accomplished), to overworking a product for no reason.

Read more about Lean Development in the post: 3 Forms of Agile You Need to Know

Overall, the Kaizen Method sets teams up for ongoing improvement, rather than random improvement at set times or at times when something goes wrong. Little things that are done along the way to improve the process will lead to better productivity in the end.

Why use the Kaizen Method?

Continuous Improvement
With this method, there is continuous improvement within the work process that ensures that work is always getting done properly and to the best of the team’s ability. Mistakes and issues are fixed in the moment instead of being fixed after the fact.

Heightened Organization
Just like in other forms of Agile, the Kaizen Method aims to bring organization to the work process. Using a board for Kaizen (like Stormboard’s Kaizen Template) will help initiate the organization and keep your team on track.

Better Teamwork
In any business or organization, teamwork is essential to getting things done efficiently. Kaizen focuses on every person within a team, not just select people, which will make for better teamwork overall.

Improved Customer Satisfaction
In customer-focused companies that produce goods and services, making sure the customer is happy with what they are using is essential for continued business. Implementing the Kaizen Method will keep the production goals focused, so that customer feedback stays positive.

Better Quality of Goods and Services
When the work process is improved, and a team is working more efficiently, the product or service they are developing will be of increased quality.

How does the Kaizen process work?

There are different ways to execute the Kaizen Method within a business. “Because Kaizen is more a philosophy than a specific tool, its approach is found in many different process improvement methods ranging from Total Quality Management (TQM) to the use of employee suggestion boxes.” (source)

Implementing Kaizen can be as simple as trying to get everyone on your team to begin finding things that they could improve upon, which will eventually lead to larger change within your business. Using Kaizen boards or templates are other options, which can be created by using paper, a whiteboard, or using a digital tool.

Because there is no single way to start using Kaizen, make sure to choose a path that will best fit your team and how you work. Identify wastes within your business that you want to address and go from there.

How to use Stormboard for the Kaizen Method

Stormboard offers a template catering to Kaizen called “Kaizen Why’s — 5W and IH of Kaizen” (see image below). This is similar to our basic Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How template, but it offers more detail and is focused on the Lean process.

Each of the sections allows you and your team to identify the specific pieces of your work process that need to be looked at before deciding to make changes or not. The sections each have specific questions that will prompt your team to look at things more critically than they might normally be looked at.

For example, in the “Who?” section, one of the questions is, “Who else should do it?”. So, if someone in your team is working on a task but needs help, isn’t the best fit for the task, or can’t take on the workload, this will get them to decide if they need someone else to work on it, and who that should be.

This is an example of a small improvement that will contribute to an overall positive change in your process. The image below shows how Stormboard’s Kaizen template looks when it is in use.

If this Kaizen template looks like it would work for you and your team, here’s what you need to do to get started:

  1. Log into your Stormboard account or sign up for a 30-day free trial here.
  2. Create a new Storm (what we call your digital workspace) from your Dashboard.
  3. Type “Kaizen” into the search bar when you are prompted to select a template.
  4. Select the “Kaizen Why’s — 5W and IH of Kaizen” template.
  5. You can now add content, customize your template, and start streamlining your business.

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Implementing the Kaizen Method with Your Team

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