PDCA or Plan – Do – Check – Act
The word “Kaizen,” if you break it down into its two Japanese root words, “kai” means change and “zen” means good.
It’s not just about change or an iteration. It’s about making sure change is for the better, and that the change is what you intended. The essence of PDCA, Kaizen, is that you are following a systematic but not overly sophisticated Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. It is purposeful experimentation. Applying PDCA, allows you to “see” opportunities for improvement and leverages the resources in your environment. I like to describe it as the culture of Lean.
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There are three different levels of Kaizen if we follow the Shingo Prize Criteria.
- Tool-driven Kaizen: We do a Kaizen event for every improvement. You end up thinking the event solves your problems and in reality, the effectiveness is pretty limited.
- System-driven Kaizen: Common for most people and highlighted in the book “Learning to See”. These are Kaizen events and improvement projects that are related to, values for improvement plans.
- Principal-driven Kaizen: This is system-driven Kaizen plus daily Kaizen. This is really where you get empowered and engage people. This is the true meaning of Kaizen where it is done each and every day. It doesn’t have to be a big Kaizen event. It could be something as simple as; “I want to move this particular file from point A to point B.”