Kaizen is the Japanese term for continuous improvement. It is literally translated as “change for the better.” In business, this approach is connected to some fundamental principles, such as teamwork, orientation toward the elimination of a source of a problem, the use of facts and data, and the engagement of every worker. Two kaizen approaches have been distinguished (Hamel 2010, 31-32):
◾ Flow kaizen ◾ Process kaizen
The former is oriented toward the flow of materials and information, and is often identified with the reorganization of an entire production area, even a company. The latter means the improvement of individual workstands. Therefore, improving the way production workers do their job is a part of a process kaizen. The use of the kaizen model for continuous improvement demands that both flow and process kaizens are used, although process kaizens are used more often to focus workers on continuous small improvements. In this model, operators mostly look for small ideas that, if possible, can be implemented on the same day. This is in contrast to traditional models of work improvement, which generally have a long lag between concept development and project implementation. In the traditional model, the time between concept development and project implementation is very long. In the kaizen model, workers mostly look for small ideas and improvements that can be implemented on the same day. Figure 3.1 presents the difference between the two models.