Kaizen is a Japanese word that, loosely translated, means to take apart (kai = change) and put together in a better way (zen = good). The term, commonly used in Japan, moved into mainstream American business language when Masaaki Imai’s book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success was published in 1986. But only through repeated applications of lean principles and tools has the West begun to understand the true meaning of kaizen, which goes far beyond process improvement.