Noventa Consulting AG: Kaizen – Higher Revenues with Less Effort
"Kaizen” became an internationally recognized term through auto manufacturer Toyota, which has used this Japanese philosophy in its production for decades. Noventa Consulting AG advises companies on implementing Kaizen and believes that if implemented consistently, it could keep many jobs in Switzerland.
Upon visiting a client’s production plant, Kaizen specialist and director of Noventa Consulting AG Björn Kreisel typically sees room for improvement at the very first glance. Production is often carried out in too large of a space, and work flows are inefficient. He uses an example to explain what he means by this: “Let’s say you have to make 20 sandwiches. What would you do first?” Most people would probably lay 40 slices of bread out on a table, spread all the ingredients out on top, and then close and wrap up the sandwiches. “Wrong,” says Björn Kreisel. The right way to do it is to always make an entire sandwich, wrap it up, and then get started on the next one. “That way, the paths you take are shorter since with all the slices laid out, you need to walk around the table to reach all of them. Plus, you pick up each slice multiple times,” he explains.
Kaizen is based on the assumption that the status quo is never perfect. Thought is continuously given to which processes could be improved to enhance quality, shorten production times, and make clients more satisfied. Perfection may be unattainable – but there is always potential for improvement. The term “Lean Management” is closely associated with Kaizen. The methods used to implement the Kaizen approach are described as “lean.” Their main goal here is to prevent waste, whether caused by excess production or by having too large of a warehouse, redundant movements, waiting, or errors. Special emphasis is placed on cleanliness and orderliness in the plant and at each work station. Each space only has what is actually needed. Everything else is kept where it belongs because time spent looking for things is also a waste.
Painful at First
Kaizen extends into every business area and is embraced by every employee at every level of management. This means that everyone assumes responsibility, contributes ideas, and is perpetually working to optimize workflows and to improve themselves. As Björn Kreisel notes, “Weaknesses become evident through this kind of systematic shift in thinking. It is certainly a typical part of the process for companies to want to throw in the towel early on because they are suddenly confronted with issues that they supposedly did not have beforehand. Kaizen is painful at first.” Nevertheless, businesses whose employees have embraced Kaizen produce better quality and more revenue with less effort. As Björn Kreisel points out, “Many companies offshore their production due to cost pressure. We often see, however, that even companies such as these have not fully tapped their potential and that they could keep valuable jobs in Switzerland by changing their operations.”
Kaizen-Based Email Management
- Adjust the settings in your email program so that incoming emails do not pop up or create sounds.
- Only read and answer emails at specific, scheduled times.
- Only read emails if you have time to answer them as well.
- Whenever possible, only open and read each email once.
- Create a smart filing structure.
- If you cannot answer an email immediately, set a reminder so you see it again later on.
- Create standard text modules for recurring email topics.