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Continuous Improvement
Continuous Improvement

What is the philosophy of one of the most beloved business term?

Alexander Sergeev avatar
Written by Alexander Sergeev
Updated over a week ago

Kanban is based on the principles of a pull system, and its most evident benefits include efficiency and productivity. And one of the most popular and obvious Kanban concepts is Continuous Improvement.

What Is Continuous Improvement? 

Continuous improvement (or Kaizen) is a method that helps to identify opportunities for streamlining work and reducing waste.

According to the original Japanese meaning, Kaizen is “the act of making bad points better”. The adopted translation stands for improvement or changes for the better.

The modern sense of the word Kaizen originated in the Toyota company reality.

This factory is a great example of a company that made an excellent practice of continuous improvement. They created an effective management system to generate and review improvements in never-ending cycles.

The practice of Kaizen is now being used by thousands of organizations all over the world. When Kanban and Kaizen go hand-in-hand, they facilitate continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement is a flexible process that can be considered as a formal or informal practice. Kanban and Kaizen can be integrated to allow continuous improvement through workflow visualization.

The Kaizen activity cycle is defined as the following bunch: 

Plan - Do - Check - Act

  • Plan your improvements, including setting goals.

  • Do appropriate actions required for this improvement.

  • Check and measure your success relative to your baseline

  • Act in the way to adjust or tweak your changes

What are the key advantages of Continuous Improvement? 

  • Streamlines workflows

Thanks to work to constantly improving, many businesses reduce operating overhead. This rapid improvement is a Lean improvement approach that helps to streamline workflow. This assists to save money and time, and allows reducing wasted time and effort. 

  • Reduces project costs, prevents overages

It is always crucial to know the cost of completing a body of work. Therefore, many PM offices benefit from knowing the amount of time it takes to get certain types of work done. 

Using forecasting software, project managers are able to reduce project cost and prevent overages. 

Project management offices can increase their overall effectiveness with such forecasting whether a project’s constraints are likely to be broken.

Kaizen will also give you the following benefits:

  • Everyone speaks the same language and all employees are part of the process.

  • Creates a growth mindset

  • Increases motivation as everyone sees that they are part of the change. 

  • Better acceptance of new ideas

When to Use Continuous Improvement

Performing something faster or cheaper will not provide you with quality.

In order to maintain quality standards and at the same time cut time and costs, companies turn to the Lean approach, including Continuous Improvement.

When teams cannot practice Continuous Improvement throughout their day-to-day work, the best way to leverage the concept is to hold continuous improvement events - Value Stream Mapping (or Rapid Improvement events). Such events can take from 1 to 5 days to complete.

In some companies, Lean improvement techniques are already adopted as a standard by which all projects and work are done. Implementing Continuous improvement, companies save money by identifying inefficiencies in project teams.

Toyota was the first company that provoked the success of continuously improving Kaizen culture. 

The approach is easy to implement within every professional or personal scenario. Nowadays, Continuous Improvement is one of the most popular practices.

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