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What Is Kaizen Training?

By C. Mitchell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Kaizen training is a training program for business leaders and corporate executives that teaches techniques for improving efficiency and effectiveness. The training equips leaders to increase productivity and improve the overall corporate climate by cultivating an atmosphere of business-oriented self reflection. The heart of kaizen training is process-learning. Kaizen is not something that can be implemented once, but rather must be lived, on a day-to-day-basis, in order to be successful.

The word kaizen is Japanese for “improvement.” It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the practice of kaizen as a business practice originated in Japanese corporations. As Japan struggled to rebuild from the devastation of the Second World War, entrepreneurs developed kaizen training as a means of improving job relations, workplace functionality, and accuracy, among other things.

All kaizen processes center around bringing employees together to collectively solve corporate problems, as well as to jointly pursue the corporation’s larger goals. It involves everyone from assembly line workers to managers and executives, with the idea that all employees influence corporate success or failure. Training teaches leaders ways of bringing diverse groups of employees together, and inspiring them to identify and affect process improvement themselves. Some of kaizen training works on accountability and teamwork, but an almost equal amount is focused on identifying patterns of waste, studying strategies of lean manufacturing, and developing programs for continuous improvement.

Kaizen was initially designed with the manufacturing industry in mind. Engineering and raw production companies in particular are easily suited to the kaizen model. Businesses in all market sectors can benefit from kaizen training and philosophies, however, and kaizen training today occurs in a wide variety of different organizations all over the world.

Corporate leaders can receive kaizen training in a couple of different ways. Sometimes, training is built into executives’ daily or weekly calendars for a number of months. Specialists in the kaizen method will come to an office and conduct training. Common training activities include lectures and case studies as well as small group work and role-playing.

Kaizen coaching is also available, and is particularly popular amongst smaller organizations that might not have the time or the resources to make full use of in-office training exercises. A kaizen coach will usually work with an organization to assess all happenings, then make advice and suggestions to help bring that organization in line with kaizen ideals of self-made productivity and continuous improvement.

Sometimes kaizen training is compressed into a weekend retreat or team-building getaway. Executives and managers participating in kaizen retreats often travel to an off-site location for a number of days to participate in intensive kaizen training. Because kaizen is a method requiring continuous implementation, not just a philosophy, one-time training sessions are not usually as helpful as training that spans more time. The risk with all-at-once retreat training is that participants may not have a chance to see results before losing sight of all that they have learned.

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