The SAWN Business Philosophy is taken from the Kaizen Business Philosophy; Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning gradual, orderly, continual improvement that focuses on eliminating waste in all systems and processes of an organization. The business strategy begins and ends with people, and requires that everyone in an organization work together to make improvements without large capital investments. With Kaizen, an involved leadership guides people to continuously improve their ability to meet expectations of high quality, low cost, and on-time delivery. Kaizen can be beneficial to any company and rewarding for employees. It affects the entire company culture, encourages open communication, and promotes seamless adaptation to continual change, teamwork, and taking personal responsibility for the day-to-day procedures one uses on the job. Kaizen emphasizes action. Teams don’t sit in boardrooms pondering about problems or designing strategic plans; they are out on the floor trying out new techniques until they find practical and effective ways to improve performance. Continuous improvement is achieved by breaking down complex tasks into their sub- or sub-sub components thus making them easily executable.
- The first phase stresses the need to improve operations to remain competitive: eliminating unnecessary steps and work in the process, or reducing the staffing level. The streamlined process might involve using less manufacturing floor space for equipment and people.
- The second phase addresses how new operations fit into a company’s production cycles or processes, which includes time observation, counting inventory, measuring square footage of the floor space, and creating a practical diagram that follows the logical steps of the process. Often a new layout for equipment or new process method must be devised to reduce the inventory and to facilitate functional work flow.
- The third phase requires that innovative ideas and problem-solving techniques be collated, which includes training in working as a team, creating coherent agendas, keeping minutes, handling action items, focusing on the team mission, and controlling outcomes. Teams should be taught skills such as brainstorming; making checklists, diagrams, and surveys; and creating charts. Although team-building and teaching collaborative business skills are important to Kaizen, getting input from every employee is what makes the Kaizen business strategy effective. The Kaizen philosophy asserts that every employee, regardless of education or experience, has valuable suggestions to contribute. Diverse life experiences can also shed new light on a seemingly complex problem.
- Customer comments about products or services that need improvement are another place to start looking for areas of improvement. Look outside your particular industry for process improvement ideas and skills. Many companies find that they learn the most not from studying their competitors but from seeing how companies outside their industry do things.
Theresa Lutge-Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)