Icon kaizen

How Kaizen works for the supply chain

If you are in the field of supply chain management, business management, or industrial engineering, then you need to implement the Kaizen management approach in your organization. The approach will lead to improvements in the processes, systems, and overall performance of your company. Here is a guide about the management technique and how adapting the approach will benefit your organization.

What is Kaizen?

The term refers to a concept that shows how continuous improvement and effort from each employee within an organization (from the CEO to the sales/ field staff) can lead to progressive change and result in quality output within the organization. When every member of the team is competent, efficient, and productive, the organization will be able to achieve its set goals and expand.

Kaizen is formed from two Japanese words, "kai" meaning "change", and "zen" meaning "better". This managerial technique is also identified as " The continuous improvement method." The continuous improvement method was initially developed in the US under the TWI (Training With Industry) program, whereby it was set up by W. Edwards Deming and other consultants who were supervised by General MacArthur. The original purpose of developing this managerial technique was to boost the recovery of the Japanese industry after World War II.

Originally, the continuous development technique was introduced in the industrial sector, specifically lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing refers to a management approach that aims to minimize waste and maximize profits. At present, this managerial philosophy can be used in all industries and is now referred to as agile management or lean management.

Illustrate the Kaizen approach in a simulated manufacturing environment!

The best method to explain Kaizen approach to your employees, students on a real case study!

Browser Visual - Lean Game screenshot Browser Visual - Lean Game screenshot

To successfully implement lean management and lead to continuous improvement and growth, companies need to have a corporate culture that adapts the lean philosophy. Companies that have successfully implemented the progressive change management technique to grow their brand include:

  • Toyota

  • Ford Motor Company

  • Pixar Animation Studios

  • Lockheed Martin

The success of the huge brands above is clear proof of the results efficiency and customer satisfaction that an organization will achieve after implementing the progressive change method.

How to identify the need for Kaizen in your company

Should you introduce the lean supply chain management technique to your organization? Yes you should, especially if you want to accomplish bigger goals for your organization. Here are signs that indicate you need to implement lean production in your company. They include:

Poor job satisfaction

Are your employees satisfied with their jobs? Do they aim to improve their performance every time? If you suspect your employees are unsatisfied and unmotivated due to poor performance, then it is time to introduce them to the lean production approach. Some of the signs that indicate your employees are not satisfied with their jobs include regular complaints from employees and reduced work output.

By implementing the lean production approach, your staff will be motivated to put in more effort and increase their output continuously with as little waste as possible.

Lack of team work

Do your employees have a strong team spirit that allows them to work together to complete projects? Or are there always issues that come up in projects that require teamwork? If your employees do not work well together, then your priority should be to introduce them to lean production management.

Employees that work in companies that implement lean management have great teamwork which produces great results with minimum waste. This is because employees under lean management are encouraged to ask questions whenever they do not understand a process at work. By seeking guidance and answers at work, employees are able to cultivate a productive team spirit that benefits the organization.

Low commitment from staff

Employees that are not committed to the long-term goals of the organization will hinder the company from growing. If your employees are not committed or dedicated to the vision of the organization, it could mean that there is inefficient management in the company and the employees do not envision themselves working with your organization in the long term.

An example of low commitment from staff members is if your employees do not share any goals or ideas that may make the company grow. Luckily, the continuous improvement approach can help your employees become more invested in achieving the targets of the organization by becoming more productive and producing quality output.

Introducing lean supply chain management in your company will ensure that the management is more involved in monitoring the performance, output, and wellbeing of the workers. When employees at all levels take the time to focus on their progress, they will feel more motivated, committed, and satisfied with their work, which will increase teamwork and overall production.

How to implement Kaizen in your operations

In order to successfully implement progressive change in your organization to achieve increased profits, and reduced waste, you need to understand two approaches of the continuous change approach. They include:

5S Framework

The 5S framework is a systematic approach that leads to the creation of new rules, regulations, and policies that will produce a healthy work environment and culture at your organization. This management tool will transform your organization into a well-organized company with increased productivity and better results. The 5S framework consists of the following:


The term means to Sort Out. SEIRI implies that staff members of an organization should sort out all work items, organize them well, and remove any unnecessary items from the workplace.


The term stands for Organize. Employees tend to waste a lot of time looking for documents and other items at work. If all items and documents were organized such that everything would be in its proper place, work would flow smoothly.


The word means Cleanliness. SEISO indicates that the workplace should be clean and tidy at all times in order for employees to accomplish their tasks with ease.


The term refers to Standardization. SEIKETSU implies that every company should have set policies and specific rules that ensure that employees produce quality results all the time.


The word means Self discipline. SHITSUKE indicates that all employees need to have self discipline in order to improve their work process. Self discipline will ensure employees keep making an effort to deliver better results at work.

This 5S framework will ensure your supply chain company experiences continuous productivity and growth over time.

7 step cycle

Another tool to help your organization achieve continuous development is the 7-step cycle. This systemic management approach consists of the following steps:

Step 1: Involve your employees in identifying issues within the company by creating a specific group that will gather and relay information from the rest of the employees.

Step 2: Using the feedback you receive, create a list of all the problems and issues identified by your employees.

Step 3: Bring your employees together and encourage them to share solutions to the problems in the form of ideas.

Step 4: Implement the best solution by taking the necessary steps to test it out.

Step 5: Check the progress and the results of the plan to determine whether the plan was successful.

Step 6: If you receive positive results from the newly implemented ideas, adopt them throughout your company.

Step 7: Keep repeating the above steps on a regular basis so that the organization can keep moving forward.

Benefits of educating your employees about the Kaizen technique

Here are reasons why you should educate your employees about the continuous improvement managerial technique. They include:

  • Since the technique focuses on making gradual improvements, it will make your employees more open and receptive to the change process compared to making big sudden changes, which may be met by pushback and resistance.

  • The technique allows employees to scrutinize the processes, making it easy to identify mistakes that would lead to waste.

  • The progressive change technique gives employees a sense of purpose and value, which increases their morale to perform better.

  • The lean manufacturing technique ensures that employees pay more attention to customer requirements, resulting in improved customer satisfaction.

Get started with Zensimu today

Are you ready to implement the technique in your organization to increase productivity, minimize waste, and yield profitable results? Get in touch with us today for a simple and unique technique that will allow you to teach the progressive technique to your employees in the shortest time possible.

Our Zensimu platform allows companies to host teaching games that allow their employees to learn by taking action. Our teaching approach will ensure that your employees understand the continuous improvement concept more clearly and implement it in their everyday work. Create an account now to get started!

Browser Visual - Lean Game screenshot

Explore Lean concepts in a simulated Manufacturing environment!

Zensimu's games have already been used by +1000 business, schools & consulting firms to illustrate Supply Chain and Lean concepts.

Browser Visual - Lean Game screenshot Browser Visual - Lean Game screenshot

Do you need to teach or coach Kaizen approach?

Illustrate Kaizen benefits with your team or students in an interactive and funny way!

Browser Visual - Lean Game screenshot Browser Visual - Lean Game screenshot