Kaizen and Lean Six Sigma go hand-in-hand because the underlying principles of both these methodologies are more or less the same. Lean Kaizen is the approach of continuous improvement based on the premise that small and ongoing positive changes can result in major improvements. When you go through your 6 Sigma certification program you will find that it is also about improving business processes by eliminating or removing defects or errors.

What is Kaizen?
Kaizen has always been associated with the manufacturing industry. Toyota made this concept extremely popular and any reference to Kaizen has the phrase “The Toyota Way”. This Japanese word is a combination of two words that together combine as “good change” or “improvement”. Kaizen has an intrinsic connect with the Lean Six Sigma methodology because it talks about “continuous improvement”.

Lean Kaizen originated in post-World War II Japan within the Japanese quality circles. These circles (worker groups at Toyota focused on defect prevention) were developed because Dr. W. Edwards Deming from Motorola, during his visit to Japan, observed that it is the workers who should be responsible for quality control. Masaaki Imai, when he wrote his book “Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success” in 1986, popularized the concept in the West. It is said that West’s response to Kaizen was Six Sigma.

Kaizen follows 10 principles as given below.

1. Let the assumptions go;
2. Problem solving should be proactive;
3. Status quo should not be accepted;
4. Perfectionism should be removed and iterative and adaptive change should be the attitude;
5. Solutions should be looked at as one finds mistakes;
6. Everyone should feel that they are in an environment that empowers them for contributions;
7. The obvious issue should not be accepted and root cause should be done after asking five times;
8. Opinions and information from multiple sources should be culled;
9. Small and low-cost improvements should be done in a creative way and
10. Improvement should never stop.

For someone who is going through their 6 Sigma certification program, the Kaizen concepts definitely ring a bell. And why not? After all, both Kaizen and Six Sigma have the same purpose. Different people have said different things about Kaizen and Six Sigma, but the underlying methodologies remain the same. It is actually a good idea for someone to go through Kaizen seminars while they are going through their Six Sigma course.

Kaizen seminars are held all over the USA and you can find about one close to you. These seminars are led by some of the notable Six Sigma personalities and one gets to learn a lot from them. Many organizations submit their business process challenges during these seminars and these problems are dissected from an outside perspective and the outcome is highly positive.

When you attend these seminars, you will also get to know more about Six Sigma and the processes that form part of it. The learning is fascinating and you can create a great career when you are Six Sigma certified.

When you undergo your 6 Sigma certification program, you will find a lot common with Lean Kaizen.