Blog, ISO 9001 Quality System

Continuous Improvement Process

Everyone one knows how to talk the talk when it comes to continuous improvement. Your companies ISO 9001 Quality System was built on this premise, right? How do we walk the walk? Kaizen?  kai (change) zen (good) Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve continuous-improvement-cycleyour products, services, or processes. Don’t wait to start after a failure occurs, be proactive. You can approach change incrementally over time or all at once. Your products, services, or processes should be constantly evaluated and improved for efficiencies, effectiveness and compliance. Toyota Production Systems was made famous from their efforts with Kaizen. Kaizen is only one of many continuous improvement methods. I am not advocating just Kaizen; I am discussing this method since most of us have heard the term. The topic is worth researching. Kaizen is a company philosophy which is based on team work and personal discipline.

The continuous improvement cycle of Kaizen includes the following:

1. Standardizing the process, service or products operations

2. Measuring the standardized process, service or products operations

3. Determine if the measurements meet the requirements/specification

4. Create improvements to meet requirements/specification and productivity

5. Standardize the improved operations

6. Start over at Step 1!

The Deming Cycle or Shewhart Cycle mimics Kaizen and is one of the most popular continuous improvement tools used.  Plan-Do-Check-Act (PCDA Cycle)

• Plan – Identify an area for improvement and plan for change.

• Do – Implement the improvement on a small scale.

• Check – Analyze the results of the change and determine whether it was effective

• Act – If the change was successful, implement the change and continuously analyze the data.

• If there is not an improvement in the measures, begin the cycle again. Check out “Kaizen: The Key To Japan’s Competitive Success”, by Masaaki Imai is worth a read.

Remember, implementing any process improvement method requires management’s commitment and employee involvement. I have always found that the employees are the backbone of any organization and when they are committed as a team, great things happen. Embrace the employees! Welcome to the world of zen!

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