Improving working conditions has a significant effect on production processes. The Kaizen philosophy can help a lot in this case. The Kaizen philosophy is primarily related to production. But let’s look at how this approach can be used in the office.
How the workplace is designed and organized can have a dramatic affect on every company’s development. Kaizen is a lean tool that can help us with workplace organization and can be used to motivate employees about process improvement.
Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “change for better”, as in improvement.
Kaizen is Japanese philosophy or practice that focuses on the continuous improvement of production processes, development, supporting business processes and management, and all aspects of life. In other words, even when the workflow seems to be fine-tuned, there are always some things that need improvement. It is worth noting that there are two types of Kaizen – breakthrough and daily.
is when, according to a certain scheme, in cycles, every six months, events are held that help to get visible improvements. For example, in changing processes, equipment, people.
is when people make small improvements every day in their workplaces. Kaizen has the concept of “Gemba” – a workplace. It can be a factory, a warehouse, or an office. This is a place where people create values for which customers pay.
Many people are familiar now with one of the applications of Kaizen – “5S” (sort, straighten, shine, standardize, sustain). When implemented in manufacturing, it looks something like this: the director of the factory and all the top management put on mittens, work uniforms, and together with the workers rake the selected area. They wash the equipment, remove the excess. Bringing the workplace to an ideal state – describe it in the standard, take some pictures.
This is one of the benefits of a lean 5S system–The area gets cleaner. Thus, it inspires people that one can take it and literally start changing everything in the Gemba. And everything turned out according to common sense: the speed of work increases, the influence of the human factor is reduced, it is convenient to work in their workplace.
Having seen a good kaizen improvement system in manufacturing, you can use this same kaizen approach on sales teams in the office. It is important to go through several preparatory steps in order to understand how to proceed in the case of office work.
You have to start with the research. Kaizen provides us with many excellent tools in this case. The task is global – to understand what prevents managers (for example) from performing better? In order to understand where the company’s managers have problems, you need to use the “Checklist” tool, which is one of the seven quality tools used for process improvement.
Checklists, also called check sheets, or recording tables, are used to tally and record data throughout the time period. For example, throughout the month managers must track (via a checklist) all temporary losses that are not related to direct duties. Here is an important point – you need to trust the managers when using the “Checklists”. In addition, the motivation of managers is directly focused on profits. On a daily basis, employees must record activities that are time-consuming and not profitable., and then tally them up.
The research results may surprise you. For example, have you ever wondered how much time your employees spend going to the printer across the office? Or how does the lack of small office supplies affect sales? Of course, analysis of the “checklists” revealed much more significant problems than problems in the organization of the workplace of employees, but the detection and correction of, so to speak, “everyday problems” has greatly simplified the work of specialists.
There are side processes that take a maximum of 5 minutes a day. This is not much but if you total that over a year it can accumulate to more than two full working days, during which your employees are forced to solve non-essential issues that complicate their work, instead of giving their time to the client.
Here’s a simple example of a commonplace problem that would cost the company nothing to solve: in meeting rooms, sign each control panel from the device and put them in one place. So the remotes are not lost and for everyone, it will be clear from which device each one. Thus, at business meetings, you will not waste time looking for them and discussing what each remote control is from.
In practice, there are a lot of such things that are not noticed. But it is almost impossible to distinguish them among the processes until you do it consciously.
At the moment, the most effective solution according to Kaizen, in my opinion, is the visualization board. Managers and employees spend a lot of time preparing and reviewing reports. They are important, but this work requires time, which can be reallocated to work with the client. Visualization on the Kaizen board replaces most of the reports and clearly shows what problems there are in the department, where help is needed, and the current tasks of each employee. There is nothing unnecessary on the board, all the information on the board is posted there by someone, for something, and for someone.
These business performance scoreboards are hung in each department, and key indicators of the department are presented on them in the form of graphs. In the sales department, this is, for example, sales volume, shipments volume, and receivables, the number of deals. Any manager or employee can see what tasks the department should accomplish, plans, and current indicators. And you as a manager no longer have to waste time reading multi-page reports, and you will immediately see the real situation, the problem areas, and where your help is needed. Your employees will no longer waste time writing and updating reports but will spend more time with customers, thus contributing to the development of the company.
Kaizen is a continuous process, you can always find what to improve. In practice, it will help employees be more comfortable in their work, and so they can give more time to the client, and in the end, even small improvements will contribute to the growth of the company.
Author Bio: Helen Wilson is a professional content writer at writeanypapers.com. Her main spheres of specialization are Marketing and Business. She studies topics about psychology and health.