George Carlin, a famous American comedian who is often remembered for his funny one-liners, once said, “Just when I discovered life, they changed it.” Change is often a word that is heavily used during election campaigns to win the hearts and minds of voters. In the workplace, change is often something that comes naturally to the business or whenever new management takes over. There are several methods for changing an organization, and the Japanese business philosophy concept known as Kaikaku may be something your organization needs to stay competitive in today’s economy.
Kaikaku is a Japanese word that means “radical change.” Originating in Toyota vehicle production standards, this philosophy is concerned with making radical and fundamental changes to a production system. Today, this philosophy is applied to any organization because it involves improvement on a larger scale. Similar to other methods of lean production such as Six Sigma, Kaikaku is about improvement on a larger scale where lean production becomes a fundamental concept of how manufacturing processes occur.
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Kaikaku is also innovation which brings new concepts, new processes, new machines, and new products. While some philosophies focus on the way you do things in an organization, Kaikaku is all about rethinking the way things are done. For example, an organization can make a radical change in management by switching from a hierarchical organization where directions and policies come from the top down to an entirely new management structure where bottoms up management is practiced. This philosophy is all about rethinking the very foundation of the way people in your organization are valued.
Regarding production, Kaikaku is revolutionary by focusing on rapid and radical improvements. Similar to radical innovation, it can be applied to any activity. However, when following this philosophy, change is not always necessary. It is also known by other names such as System Kaizen, Breakthrough Kaizen, Flow Kaizen, and Kaizen Blitz.
Why is Kaikaku Necessary?
Kaikaku is necessary to elevate the awareness of people to help them gain a higher level of understanding while also breaking paradigms. This is why Kaikaku is considered revolutionary because it may help when approaching a problem situation. Often, problems may require radical improvement from the beginning, and this is where Kaikaku plays an important role.
Many managers seek greatness for their organization but do not know exactly what to do. This is where an emphasis on revolutionary change and significant improvements come into play. An example is the inventor of this philosophy, the Toyota Corporation. Kaikaku was applied when the company decided to introduce a new, lighter material that would be used for manufacturing the body of new vehicles. It was also used when the company replaced human workers and installed robots to press, weld, or paint vehicles during the manufacturing process.
The last example about robots is a highly radical change using Kaikaku. If you have been paying attention to the news lately, it is predicted that Americans will have to make radical changes about how they will seek jobs in the future because automation will replace many of the tasks that are performed by American workers today in the future.
Getting Started with Kaikaku
To become a better organization, it may be necessary to make radical changes, and this is usually done in the form of a project. Usually initiated by management, this change will often significantly impact business in a positive way. Some examples that management may use include introducing new strategies, new knowledge, new production techniques, new approaches, or new equipment. It can also be initiated by external factors such as market conditions or new technology in a particular industry.
The projects that management introduces are usually one of the four types:
1. Radically Innovative – Operation close
Example: Introducing new and innovative production solutions that are currently trending in a specific industry.
2. Radically Innovative – Capital Intensive
Example: The introduction of new production technology that is innovative and groundbreaking.
3. Locally Innovative – Operation Close
Example: The introduction of conventional methods such as TPM or Six Sigma may be new to the organization and have a low direct cost.
4. Locally Innovative – Capital Intensive
Example: The installation of robot automation may be new to the company but not new to the industry. The decision has a strategic role in nature but could be costly in the short term.
When implementing Kaikaku, you are always focusing on revolutionary and radical improvements. Your organization should always strive to create greater value through a radical overhaul of activity (usually in the form of a project) to create greater value and to eliminate all waste. These changes are done rapidly and often used as an addition to the Kaizen philosophy which focuses on incremental improvement.
10 Tips to Help You Get Started with Kaikaku
- 1. Go out of your way to make sure that you amaze your customers, both internally and externally. You should ask yourself, “What can we do to give every customer an experience that is above and beyond their expectations?” You should always look for ways for your organization to make every effort and give the maximum contribution to answering this question.
- 2. Develop a mindset of creative dissatisfaction. This may require you asking yourself, “What would an ideal workstation or process look like?” Search for ways to make radical improvements to answer this question.
- 3. Use the 80/20 principle and apply it to everything. This means looking for opportunities to do much more using fewer resources.
- 4. Never look at problems as failures. Always view them as opportunities to make radical changes for the better. By doing so, you will hone in on developing the best skills for creative problem-solving.
- 5. Never be afraid to challenge the status quo and presumed assumptions. Current practices in your organization may entrap people in two believing that old ways of seeing and thinking are the best and impossible to change. These practices and beliefs are something that you must constantly challenge.
- 6. Ask “Why” and “What if” questions. This will allow you to put a new set of eyes on current practices and help you take a look at different perceptual positions.
- 7. Learn how to overcome resistance to change as well as how to sell your radical ideas to other stakeholders. It is very hard to implement change if decision makers and top leadership do not embrace it.
- 8. Although it is a very overused cliché, there is nothing wrong with thinking outside of the box. Get crazy and brainstorm creative solutions with your group then look for synergies.
- 9. The power of positive thinking is critical because drastic changes will never be implemented successfully when negative thoughts are clouding your mind. With a positive mind, you will allow to begin making improvements as you learn while you go.
- 10. Follow the Kaikaku method with the Kaizen method which focuses on continuous small improvements.
Kaikaku vs. Kaizen
The philosophy of Kaizen involves an organization making small incremental improvement changes for better production processes. This word is Japanese for “improve”. It refers to activities that continuously improve all functions of an organization. This method involves all workers from the top down to include the CEO all the way to workers on the assembly line.
This philosophy also applies to processes such as logistics and purchasing which both cross organizational boundaries. These boundaries are cross-organizational, and they are all connected to the supply chain. Some examples of industries where Kaizen has been applied include healthcare, life coaching, psychotherapy, banking, government, and several other industries.
Kaizen is evolutionary whereas Kaikaku is revolutionary. Kaikaku is different from Kaizen because it implements big revolutionary changes to reform production systems that are already in place. It is also designed to allow organizations to make continuous minor changes of a particular area of a production system. Its primary goal is to solve team-related problems. Also, Kaizen encourages lean manufacturing programs and processes that are standardized to eliminate waste.
Another big difference between these two types of philosophies is the level of improvement that one reaches for an organization. Kaizen is based on individual activities and all employees getting involved. Organizations achieve an improvement of less than 20%. In contrast, Kaikaku projects often result in more significant improvements with the success range of 30 to 50%. When Kaikaku is implemented, it also serves as a new base level for implementing Kaizen again.
Kaizen has been in existence for much longer than Kaikaku. Kaizen was first practiced in Japan after WWII and later influenced in part by American businesses and teachers of quality management. This philosophy made notable improvements as a part of The Toyota Way business plan. Kaikaku helped make this company one of the most successful car manufacturing companies in the world.
Changing the Culture with Kaikaku
To change the culture with Kaikaku, it is important to take every opportunity to improve processes and reduce costs to be competitive. This involves breaking the existing paradigm and creating a breakthrough using a new system or model. There are many ways to change the culture within a company, but it boils down to having the right people on your team. When it comes to Kaikaku, the right people are usually determined by who is working in management and those who work at the executive level. These people tend to have the biggest influence on an organization’s culture.
For example, it is usually a big struggle for manufacturing companies to get executives to have a full understanding of the vital importance of manufacturing details and systems. This is a problem that can make or break a manufacturing company’s success because these details can change profitability and also provide information on factors that reduce profitability. Implementing Kaikaku will help executives, middle management, as well as workers on the production line begin to think differently.
Other aspects management should work on when changing the overall culture of an organization is to take a look at how the organization is impacted by:
- Physical environment
- Respect for people by implementing a “No Blame” culture
Employees also have to be trained on the best practices that are systematic and globally recognized as best practices. These practices must be implemented and tied into goals for improvement.
Radical Change Can Benefit Your Organization
Doing the same old tired thing and expecting different or improved results should be unacceptable. As time progresses, organizations do make slight changes but rarely make radical ones unless they are forced to do so by competitors or significant changes in technology. If you find yourself fighting fires within the organization instead of looking at root causes for real problems, these problems will never get solved or understood; especially by upper management. If you want to have your organization excel in this fast-paced world, you may want to consider Kaikaku to bring about the necessary change your organization needs.