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M Pessaran Ghader
M Pessaran Ghader

Illustration

The Kaizen Strategy

The third religion of the Japanese

Majid Pessaran Ghader is the Academic and Research Consultant to the Management and Planning Organization of Iran. He is also the editor-in-chief of Administrative Reform periodical. He is also the Secretory to the Technical Committee of the International Conference on Quality Management. He holds a doctorate degree in Public Sector Management.

Improvements in productive organizations and the related services are policies that high-ranking managers adopt. A close study of the growth and improvement strategies in various organizations reveals that there are two different viewpoints. The first, known as the Improvement Strategy or Kaizen addresses micro or incremental, continual and participatory (that is involving the participation of the people) improvements. The second view, known as Innovation Strategy, suggests macro, sudden, and disconnected improvements.

The miracle that was the economic and social development in Japan during the decades that followed WWII was partly the result of the Kaizen Strategy. Therefore, an awareness of this strategy at this stage of development of our country can help the nation greatly in taking longer and faster strides towards development, provided that we preserve and safeguard our own cultural and social values. The Kaizen Strategy is the most significant management concept in Japan and the key to the competitive success of that nation. It is a concept that is treated as the third religion of the Japanese, the prevalent mental order and philosophy based on the people's instinctive desire for quality and value, participation and commitment.

Kaizen is an approach chosen by the people and is reflected in the constant call to the people, day and night, through the media, to participate in social affairs and seek continual improvement.

Illustration It is a concept that has extended its roots to the depths of the hearts of every worker, every manager. This is why Japan had the right atmosphere for the acceptance and development of the superior concepts offered by Deming, Crosby and Juran to develop, on the basis of these concepts, and become within two decades a forerunner in economy and industry, competing among the greatest to become an outstanding country: the Land of the Sun.

Kaizen is a concept far above simply good management, being based on the fact that if an organization is to continue to exist in this age of competition and increasing complexities, it must before all seek the satisfaction of its customers and meet their demands. Thus, Kaizen is the strategy of improvement according to the needs and demands of the customers. It is a concept that requires systemic approach and tools for resolving problems in order to meet the customer's satisfaction, be it the purchaser of goods or the receiver of services.

The message of the Kaizen Strategy can be summarized in one sentence: "Not a single day should pass without some improvement in some aspect of the organization or personal life", a message which also has roots in Islamic teachings.

Kaizen is a process-oriented approach and the process-oriented manager strongly believes in certain criteria. I had the opportunity to observe the very high degree of commitment to these criteria while I was taking a Course in National Administration in Japan that took me to many parts of that country. These criteria include:

  • discipline,
  • time management,
  • high levels of skill,
  • participation and involvement with problems,
  • excellent spirit, and
  • communication with others.

These characteristics could be observed among the shopkeepers, staffs of supermarkets, bank employees, etc. It was as though these qualities had mingled with the spirit of the nation and had become an inseparable part of the country and its people, and this can become an excellent model for other nations.

This is a great achievement, a unique accomplishment owed to farsighted and knowledgeable leadership by unions of Japanese scientists and engineers. Right choices, determination, giving important tasks to capable people... have led to flourish and excellence in organizations and people, something that Europe has been trying to achieve in the past two decades through the "Business Excellence" model.

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