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Kaizen: 20 Keys to Workplace Improvement explained with examples

Author: Joshua Moore Published on: Monday Feb 17, 2020
Kaizen - 20 Keys to Workplace Improvement explained with examples

In the 1990s, Professor Iwao Kobayashi announced his work 20 Keys to Workplace Improvement and designed a functional improvement framework named “the 20 Keys”. He classified 20 sections and focus operations, which should be developed to achieve holistic and sustainable transformation. According to the 20 Keys, these base keys should be started before the others to create a robust structure in the organization. Kaizen culture uses these guides even today but the understanding of these keys is still not clear today.

Examples for all the 20 Keys to Workplace Improvement to create a Kaizen environment

Clean and tidy. Everywhere and all of the time.

A clean and tidy workplace during the workday will undoubtedly lead to a faster finding of accurate information in a much shorter time. You can use a calendar notification for each team to remind you every day. Not every member of the team will like it, but it will be as long as he gets used to arrange the files and folders he works with. It will undoubtedly take a while to remember where it stands. When work files are stored in separate folders, for example, everyone will know where to find them for a few seconds as needed.

Teamwork on improvement. Focused on teamwork to engage everyone in enthusiastic improvements.

The discussion of a task by the whole team will lead to the view of the task from many different points of view. This will lead to the exchange of different information, and the team will be able to screen out what is needed and unnecessary. This, in turn, will generate more discussion between the team. Of course, these discussions require more time than the time devoted to completing the task.

Continuous improvement in the workplace. Creating improvement as a “way of life”, constantly making work better and the workplace a better place to work.

Modern online tools can be implemented as a study for different teams. In it, every individual will be able to describe what he or she liked and what can be improved. In order not to be so extensive, only a few multiple choice proposals can be made. According to the information collected, make improvements to the wishes of most of the team. One of the difficulties will be getting the whole team involved in completing the form. They may need to be reminded repeatedly until they fill it out.

Disciplined, rhythmic working. Synchronized total systems where all the parts work together rather than being independently timed.

A software tool like JIRA can be used to allow individual teams to track where their counterpart has gone in the task. This allows process optimization because some teams depend on the work of other teams so that they can contribute to the task accordingly. This way, they will be informed when they can begin the task.

Waste. Constant identification and elimination of things that either do not add value or even destroy it.

Continuous monitoring of teams and tasks allows you to see which of the things that the team is doing are working well and which of them are not so good. In this way, activities that are not particularly beneficial to development can be eliminated over time. This analysis will help you figure out what to invest to positively maximize your workflow, which will lead to significant progress. The difficulties that will arise for a company are:

The need for the person responsible for the relevant analyzes. This person will need to invest additional time for inspection and study.

Extra expenses for the salary of the “analyst”.

Worker empowerment and training. Training workers to reach the jobs of more highly skilled people, so they can increase the value they add to the job.

In my opinion, an essential factor is to constantly invest in increasing the knowledge of a product or field to each team member. When there are regular meetings or various training in different directions, we can be sure that our team will continuously acquire new knowledge or consolidate old ones. This is very important for everyone to work at the level expected of them. Perhaps organizing these additional training will be time-consuming, especially if the team is larger and the training time is limited. One option is to divide into focus groups so that everyone will be able to pay attention during the training and be more productive.

Technology. Using and teaching people about more complex technology they can use and adapt to it, bringing in the latest machines and making them really work.

It is vital to implement new techniques and products that would lead to more efficient teamwork through new work techniques. One of the initial problems is that the team must learn to apply the latest methods. This process may take some time for people to get used to and use so that they can benefit from what has been learned in the future.

Participatory management style. Working with all people to engage their minds and hearts into their work as well as their hands.

It is good to organize frequent meetings to gather different perspectives so that they can be extracted. As a result, the good ideas of each member of a team will be combined. However, the organization of these meetings will not always be easy, since it is necessary to consider each one according to the importance of the task that he will perform at the moment. If a task has a deadline that is in the very near foreseeable future, it will not be appropriate to take time off from the team member’s work, as this may lead to unnecessary discussions.

Reduced inventory and lead time. Addressing overproduction and reducing costs and timescales.

It is good to invest in developing people’s skills. This will lead to faster completion of assigned tasks because the team will learn new methods of how to do the work effectively. Learn more about Lead time.

Changeover reduction. Reducing times to change dies and machines to enable more flexible working.

If the team is inexperienced, it would be helpful for them to have mentors who have already gone through this and have more experience in product development/use. They will assist them in completing their tasks through advice and guidance. This will lead to better quality and faster production. If necessary, they may have daily training during which mentors will show them different techniques for better and more efficient product handling.

Maintenance. Maintaining machines by people who work on them, rather than external specialists. This allows for constant adjustment and minimum downtime.

The advantage will be that the company has directly appointed system administrators, that is, IT professionals who work full-time and are responsible for the maintenance of all systems. In this way, problems with systems due to neglected maintenance can be avoided.

Defects. Management of defects, including defective parts and links into improvement.

Analyzing work is a very important developmental process. There may be different types of rallies weekly. During these, the team will discuss what difficulties they are currently experiencing. When everyone is in the opinion of a given obstacle and everyone is aware of it, then it will be much easier to remove it. Therefore, it is imperative to control the workflow so that it can be responded to as quickly as possible when a problem arises.

Scheduling. Timing of operations that creates flow and a steady stream of on-time, high-quality, low-cost products.

Different types of products, in most cases, require different time for their production. The most important step for me is to prioritize the products according to their complexity and time to manufacture. When more work and resources are required for an end product, planning should begin with it so that it can be completed with other products requiring less time and resources. This, of course, depends on the requirements of the client. The availability of information on the product development plan will have a positive impact. So we will be clear about its complexity and time to build.

As a consequence, things will be prioritized, and tasks will be distributed across the entire team to their capabilities, so that product development is on time. This term has been discussed with the client in advance. We may not always be able to estimate the build time correctly. This will lead to more team tension and deconcentration. A concern with the deadline team will trigger this. Through proper planning and constant discussion of the ongoing process, we will be able to optimize the manufacturing processes.

Zero monitoring. Building systems that avoid the need for “machine minders” and instead have people who are working on maintaining a number of machines.

In order for this to happen, it is of the utmost importance to build appropriate team habits. In this way, they will keep track of their mistakes and their progress. Building trust is fundamental to making this happen. When the people we work with realize that we believe in them, they do their best to accomplish their tasks. They will put more effort into the performance. One downside is that excess stress can be accumulated for failure to perform the task as expected if they do not receive continuous feedback on progress.

Process, cellular manufacturing. Creating interconnected cells where flow and pull are the order of the day.

In each company, certain tasks must be done every day at certain times of the day. Making calendar reminders will lead to consistency in how they are performed. It will be difficult at first. This will be the case until the team gets used to everyone monitoring their calendars and notifications every day. This will remind them of their tasks. There will be less supervisory oversight.

Supplier partnerships. Working with suppliers, making them a part of the constantly-improving value chain, rather than fighting with them.

These can be processes, ways of working, even roles or positions. Anything that doesn’t help you should be removed from your job.

When a company works with multiple suppliers, it will build trust on their part. Some suppliers are responsible for more than one product, and this can be very good when different things are needed when we are loyal to only a few of the more widely used suppliers.

Cross-functional working. People working with others in different departments and even moving to gain experience in other areas too.

Each department specializes in a different type of activity. People in different departments do not always understand their colleagues’ goals and why they are taking action. Changing departments will do well in terms of understanding the overall system of a company or team. This will contribute to every single member of the development team. They will understand what the company is aiming for. After the accumulated knowledge will be able to help prioritize specific tasks according to their importance. This achieves integrity, respect, and ease in the relationships between colleagues from different departments.

Conservation. Conserving energy and materials to avoid waste, both for the company and for the broader society and environment.

One simple example is to remove paperwork for a vacation application. Some systems replace paper through online forms. This makes the work process easier because everything is submitted electronically directly to the teams responsible for it.

Balancing financial concerns with other areas that indirectly affect costs.

The company needs to invest more time in the realization and development of products that will be more profitable than others. Even if it meant another product of minor importance to be discontinued or left in the background. Prioritizing production versus profitability is extremely important for the company.

Site technology and Concurrent Engineering. Understanding and using at all levels of methods such as Concurrent Engineering and Taguchi methods.

The Taguchi method is a quality control method. It allows the design and development of products to reduce the occurrence of defects and damage to manufactured goods. This method will be beneficial when testing the product so that any errors in product behavior can be cleared.

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