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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: People, Product, & Process Improvement

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: jeudi, mai 13, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

The difference between innovation and lean will depend a lot upon semantics and whose definition of “innovation” and “lean” we are using. For whatever reason the innovation tag seems to be applied a lot in situations where people are looking to improve products. The lean tag seems to get applied to factories trying to improve production processes. Successful companies though will need to work upon improving products, processes, and their people as well.

In Toyota the concepts of respect for people and continuous improvement (Kaizen) are the pillars of the system. Kaizen has a strange connotation to me at least here in the Unite States where it often refers to a five day workshop where production processes are studied and improved upon in a flurry of activity called an “event”. It is too long of a tangential side story to explain why this came about in the U.S. so I will save it for another time. In general in Toyota there were six basic steps to Kaizen and the steps can be applied to any area. Only your level of initiative and creativity will be the limiting factors.

Six Steps of Kaizen

1. Discover Improvement Potential

2. Analyze the Current Methods

3. Generate Original Ideas

4. Develop a Kaizen Plan

5. Implement the Plan

6. Evaluate the Results

In my opinion there is no inherent conflict between conducting lean using Kaizen principles and practicing innovation. Both require original idea creation of some sort in order to foster improvement. The above referenced six generic steps can be utilized to improve products, processes, or people systems for that matter. The act of practicing Kaizen is an excellent way to develop people and make work more interesting. The analysis methods will of course differ depending upon the subject being studied.

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