Kaikaku is a Japanese word meaning radical change. Kaikaku also means innovation and rebirth. Kaikaku asks us to take the best from the past, to look at what we are doing right now with "fresh" eyes, and to make those changes that will help us create a better future. Kaikaku means to be willing to start all over again. It means there is always a better way of doing things.
Kaizen, a more familiar word means continuous improvement. Kaizen enlists every person in the company to come up, if possible every day, with small creative ideas to make their work easier, more interesting and to build their skills and capabilties.
Kaikaku shakes us up and Kaizen allows us to put it back into order. It the combination of both these concepts that gives us personally satisfied lives and to have our companies more internationally competitive.
August 1979, I read in the New York Times that productivity had declined in America for the first time in 33 quarters. Actually not having any real idea what it meant, I still went to the Greenwich, Connecticut, library to investigate. This was curious for I hardly ever go to libraries. I love to read books but I like to buy them, never borrow them. It probably goes back to early childhood when my father told me about a policeman coming to his house when he didn't return a book on time.
At the library that August, I discovered a whole new world that drew me in and hasn't let me go. Productivity is a wonderful measure to tell us how our society is growing. As we produce more we have more to share with each other. Isn't that wonderful! The subject fascinated me and I started a a company and a newsletter called Productivity. At first, through my research at the library i found that Japan was the productivity growth leader in the world. And for some strange reason I was possessed to find out what they were doing, to share it here.
At first, I thought Japan's secret was lifetime employment and their quality circle movement. Both were important, but after constant trips to Japan, 63 to date, I found that the incessant drive for continuous improvement and quality improvement were the keys to their success. In retrospect, you might remember that products made in Japan after World War II were noted as being "junk." How did this nation, almost totally destroyed from World War II, go from "junk" producers to become such great leaders in innovation and quality?
When I plunged into this adventure I miraculously discovered, met and worked with almost every great genius in the field of manufacturing and management improvement. It was purely serendipitous, not being careful as I walked I just "stepped into it." The result of these past twenty five years has been 50 study missions to Japan, five newsletters, 400 published books, hundreds of conferences, seminars and training manuals, five newly written books, and lots of good "sushi."
I took my first study missions to Japan in 1981 and was immediately introduced to Dr.Shingo and the fabulous work of Toyota. I was "dipped," in JIT/TPS/Lean. At first, Toyota did not want to share their information with the West but Dr.Shingo let the "cat out of the bag," and what Toyota did became available to all. With all of this available to us in the early 1980's why isn't every company in the West Lean? How is it possible for Delphi, GM and Ford to be in such trouble?
I will tell you over the next days, maybe the next year what I have learned. But, I will give you a hint - "It is how we treat people."
I do hope you enjoy my Blog.