Total Quality Management

May 11, 2012

Concept of Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is based on a Japanese Concept called Kaizen, is the philosophy of continually seeking ways to improve operations. It invloves identifying benchmarks of excellent practices and instilling a sense of employee ownership of the process. The focus can be on:

  • Reducing the length of time required to process requests for loans in bank
  • The amount of scrap generated at a milling machine or the number of employee injuries.
  • Continuous improvement can also focus on problems with customers or suppliers, such as customers who request frequent changes in shipping quantities and suppliers that to maintain high quality.

The bases of the continuous improvement philosophy are the beliefs that virtually any aspect of an operation can be improved and that the people most closely associated with an operation are in the best position to identify the changes that should be made. Consequently, employee involvement plays a big role in continuous improvement programs.

Getting Started with Continuous Improvement

Instilling a philosophy of continuous improvement in an organization may be a  lengthy process, and several steps are essential to its eventual success.

  1. Train employees in the methods of statistical process control (SPC) and other tools for improvement quality.
  2. Make SPC methods a normal aspect of daily operations.
  3. Build work teams and employee involvement.
  4. Utilize problem-solving techniques within work teams.
  5. Develop a sense of operator ownership of the process.

Here employee involvement is central to the philosophy of continuous improvement. However, the last two steps are crucial if the philosophy is to be the part of everyday operations.A sense of operator ownership emerges when employees feel as if they own the processes and methods they use and take pride in the quality of product or service they produce. It comes from participation on work teams and in problem-solving activities, which instill in employees a feeling that they have some control over their workplace.

Source: Operations Management, Strategy and Analysis, Fourth Edition, Karajewski/Ritzman, Page151-152


September 1, 2009

Continuous Improvement: The Essence of Kaizen

Continuous improvement, based on Japanese concept called KAIZEN, is the philosophy of continually seeking ways to improve operations. It involves identifying benchmarks of excellent practice and instilling a sense of employee ownership of the process. (more…)

Phillip B.Crosby: Quality is Free

Phillip B. Crosby, a corporate vice-president and director of quality at ITT for 14 years, gained a lot of attention when he published his book Quality is Free in 1979. (more…)

February 25, 2009

Deming Cycle: The Wheel of Continuous Improvement

Filed under: Management of Process Quality — Tags: , , — Ferhan Syed @ 7:01 pm
The essence of continuous improvement lies in employees involvement. This happens when they improve their process, product or services by applying their creative faculties on  their work related problems and routine jobs. Kaizen (Japanese word meaning continuous improvement) provides these employees a platform to unleash their creativity.

Dr. J.Edward Deming, the famous quality guru, provided a simple yet highly effective technique that serves as a practical tool to carry out continuous improvement in the workplace. This technique is called PDCA Cycle or simply Deming Cycle. PDCA is acronym of Plan, Do, Check and Action. Deming Cycle provides conceptual as well as practical framework while carrying out Kaizen activities by the employees.  Let’s understand the concept with following illustration:

Deming/PDCA Cycle

Deming/PDCA Cycle

 The four steps Plan, Do, Check and Action should be repeated over time to ensure continuous learning and improvements in a function, product or process. (more…)

December 1, 2008



Published with Permission of Norman Bodek author of book "The Idea Generator."

Kaizen is a Japanese word. It is basically composed of two words “KAI” means change and “ZEN” means better. In other words it means change for betterment or improvement.

Kaizen is a philosophy that defines management’s role in continuously encouraging and implementing small improvements involving everyone. It is the process of continuous improvement in small increments that make the process more efficient, effective, under control, and adaptable.

Improvements are usually accomplished at little or no expense, without sophisticated techniques or expensive equipments.

It focuses on simplification by breaking down complex processes into their sub-processes and then improving them.

The Kaizen improvement focuses on the use of:

  1. Value-added and non-value-added work activities.
  2. Muda, which refers to seven classes of waste-overproduction, delay, transportation, processing,inventory, wasted motion, and defective parts.
  3. Principles of motion study and use of cell technology.
  4. Principles of material handling and use of one-piece flow.
  5. Documentation of standard operating procedures.
  6. The five S’s for workplace organization. (Already explained in Lean Production Post)
  7. Visual management by means of visual displays that everyone in the plant can use for better communications.
  8. Just-in-time principles to produce only the units in the right quantities, at the right time, and with right resources.
  9. Poka-yoke to prevent or detect errors.
  10. Team dynamics, which include problem solving, communication skills, and conflict resolution.

Kaizen relies heavily on a culture that encourages suggestions by operators who continually try to incrementally improve their job or process.

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