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Flexible Automation and Integrated Manufacturing 1996

ISBN Print: 978-1-56700-067-2

KAIZEN - A TEAMWORK APPROACH TO CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

Abstract

This paper sets out to describe the Japanese concept known as Kaizen and how it translates into Western approaches to quality management. A number of related variables are paramount to this paper, these include vision and understanding of continuous improvement; the way in which continuous improvement is introduced and sustained in organisations; and the use of effective teamwork as a means of achieving improvement. A case study has been cited involving a manufacturing organisation which has experienced failure having introduced quality teams. Changes in senior management has resulted in a new initiative to implement Kaizen teams as part of the organisation's strategy. The author's role was one of researcher in the natural environment of the organisation, therefore, there has been little or no interference. The main aim of the research project has been to gain a deeper understanding of how Kaizen can successfully be introduced into manufacturing organisations and also to observe the effectiveness of a team approach to continuous improvement. Related aspects of this work include the importance of creating a suitable organisational context in order that the concept of Kaizen may flourish successfully; continuous training and development in problem solving methodologies, tools and techniques; and the construction of successful teams with particular emphasis on the influence of individual behavioural roles within teams. Finally, the author identifies the lessons learned from the research project and provides conclusions.
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