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Management Kaizen – Key Improvements Only Top Managers Can Make

Management Kaizen has historically been associated with the factory floor, but more recently has found its way into offices and clinics. A revelation of the last decade, that Lean thinking is for everyone has extended the concept of continuous improvement well beyond the shopfloor; to banks and insurance companies, to showroom floors and classrooms, to clinical environments, and even national defense. It seems that Kaizen can be anywhere where work is done. The Japanese word Gemba is used to denote “the real place, the place where the work is done.” Gemba may be the shop floor of a factory, the operating room of a hospital or even the showroom floor of an auto dealer. According to Lean thinking if we want to make improvements in any of these diverse environments we have to “go to the Gemba” to understand the problems.

So it is with management. There is a Gemba for management’s work, a real place where problems are observed and improvements are made. Where can we find it? Its evidence is in our factories and offices and boardrooms. But its essence is in the constructs that management has built to align the actions and behavior of the entire workforce: strategy, organization and policy. These are the building blocks of the status quo. All the rest, the bricks and mortar, the machines and processes, the departments and employees follow from the grand structure we call our management system.

Management Kaizen is small changes for the better made by management in six key areas to align principles, strategy, organization, policy and personal behavior with Lean in order to create a favorable environment for company-wide continuous improvement. Management Kaizen is the keystone to enduring culture change and lean transformation.

Published by: Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership

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