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Kaizen 5S for Beginners: Sustain

Historically, Six Sigma employees have been using the business philosophy known as Kaizen. Originally from Japan, Kaizen is defined as constantly improving one’s self. Relating to business process, Kaizen is a way to find new ways of improving efficiency, reducing waste, and increasing employee safety. Like most business process improvement methods, Kaizen follows a set of stages known as the 5S’s. These stages including sorting through unnecessary items and process, organizing the workplace, maintain a clean working environment, and upholding a higher standard of production.

Throughout our series, Kaizen 5S for Beginners, we have discussed the in’s and outs of the Kaizen philosophy. This includes what each stage, or ‘S’, within Kaizen represents and how companies can successful implement it into their workplace. In this article, we will analyze the final stage of Kaizen, commonly referred to as ‘Sustain’.

What Is ‘Sustain’?

The original term in Japanese, Shitsuke, translates to English as “do without be told.” This final stage in the Kaizen business philosophy aims at practicing the self-discipline to maintain the progress made so far. Whereas the prior four stages focus on organizing, cleaning, and properly running the workspace, Sustain aspires employees to continue better their business processes in new ways. Kaizen, as a practice, revolves around constant improvement. Whether this includes reducing waste, increasing production efficiency, or decluttering the assembly line, employees use this method to improve their present work environment. Once at Sustain, employees will perform routine audits on business process. They may also train other team members on the Kaizen method, and practice strict self-discipline.

When first practiced in Japan, employees embraced the Kaizen philosophy as a new way to take pride in their work. Working together, employees sought out new ways to improve their productions and manufacturing with limited resources. Today, companies see Kaizen as the ideal goal-oriented process improvement method.

Implementing Sustain

Since its conception, the Kaizen business method has found itself in a variety of new industries. From health care to education, government and logistics, Kaizen brings benefits to numerous industries through its order and structure. Depending on your field, Kaizen will have varying strengths when implemented. Originally designed for manufacturing roles, the method was used to organize congested workspaces and deter product defects. Now, employers combine Kaizen with the data-centered approach of Six Sigma to form the ideal business process improvement method. Using the analysis and logistics of Six Sigma with the order and discipline of Kaizen, employees seek process improvements better than ever.

Furthermore, the most effective way to implement Kaizen into your corporation is with leaders who routinely enforce the method. This includes supervisors and managers who conduct routine assessments of their employees, their workspaces, and their productions. If implementing correctly, your employees will perfect their roles with the consistent practice Kaizen requires.

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