Kaizen 6 steps

Kaizen 6 steps

Kaizen (改善) is Japanese and means ‘change for the better’ or ‘improvement’. Usually, it is called continuous improvement.


Kaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond improvement. It is also a process that makes the work environment more human: it eliminates hard work (both mentally and physically) and teaches people to see and eliminate wastes (8 forms) in a process.

The customer is central to this because the customer determines whether something is value-added or wasteful.


Kaizen in 6 steps

The approach of a Kaizen is clearly described below. The 6 components each consist of activities that must be performed in order to get a good result.

1Define the problemClarify the problem 
  Complete the team 
  Clarify VOC and Value 
  Learn from previous improvements (lessons learned) 
2Collect the factsSee on the work floor itself what the problem is 
  Measuring the facts 
  Sketch the process (Value Stream Map) 
3Analyse the factsAnalyse the facts and come to the core (‘root cause’), e.g. by 5xWhy or Fishbone 
4Generate solutionsGenerate solution e.g. via a brainstorming session 
  Choose the solution 
5ImplementMake a plan and schedule, for example via an A3 form. Request agreement. 
  Realize and implement 
6Checks and monitoringCheck whether the problem has been removed and no longer recurs. Act in case of inaccuracies 
  Provide standards 
  Learn and evaluate

The following aspects are important for Kaizen

  • ensure diversity in the improvement team; with different disciplines, a problem is looked at from multiple perspectives. This takes some extra time but provides a better solution that will also be better accepted;
  • spend a lot of time gathering the facts about your intuition;
  • do not think too quickly about solutions, and do not rush to action;
  • solve the problem step by step; it does not have to (and often cannot) be solved in 1 go;
  • ensure that there is no relapse to the old situation (monitoring). Good work instructions, reports and especially attention from the management help with this monitoring.

Start small and simple and learn how the improvement process helps. After a first success, pick up a slightly more difficult problem and then expand. In other words, it does not start with the problem which financially yields the most because this will be a more difficult problem to solve. Do many small steps and come closer and closer to the final goal. There is learning at every step.

Kaizen and KPI

A team has 1 or more goals that are translated into KPI’s. The figure below shows that the team first has to come up with a standard (read: perform according to agreed KPI’s) and then remain on standard, after which the standard is improved.

Waste is the engine for Kaizen

It is not about working harder but about working smarter. Wastes are the motor for Kaizen and must be reduced or eliminated. There are 8 types of waste (to be remembered with TIMWOODS):

  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Over-processing
  • Over-production
  • Defects
  • Skills (not using talent)

The daily huddle, where yesterday and today are discussed, is a perfect opportunity to name improvement opportunities and to note them on the (digital) improvement board, which is then picked up by small improvement teams. The Kaizen process (continuous improvement) is thus complete:

  • generate
  • record
  • select
  • realize
  • congratulate
  • learn
  • report

The short video below shows how the 6 Kaizen steps are easily applied.


‘We certainly see the advantages of the Toolbox, it is clear and easier to use than our old improvement list in Excel. The subject of improvement is also easier to discuss with the Toolbox, also because it is visual and appealing.’  Thirza, Teamleader

Results of Kaizen with the COIMBEE Toolbox

The number of companies using the COIMBEE Toolbox is growing. The number of improvements that each of these companies documents and takes up is also growing.

Share this:
Comments are closed.