The philosophy of kaizen is one of Toyota’s core values. It means ‘continuous improvement’. No process can ever be declared perfect but it can always be improved.

Kaizen in practice means that all team members in all parts of the organisation are continuously looking for ways to improve operations, and people at every level in the company support this process of improvement.

Kaizen also requires the setting of clear objectives and targets. It is very much a matter of positive attitude, with the focus on what should be done rather than what can be done.

Continuous improvement is supported by three key principles; TPS - Thinking People System, ‘5 whys?’, ‘5S’
Thinking people systemThe Toyota Production System invites team members to think about the process and make timely decisions in order to keep it running smoothly, rather than merely operating like machines. This involvement creates responsibility for the success of the process, increasing both morale and quality. This is also essential for the success of kaizen.

Every morning an asa-ichi meeting is held to discuss quality deviations and eliminate their causes. Kaizen is not just based on improvements being developed and implemented only by experts or management. It involves everybody, relying on the extensive knowledge, skills and experience of the people working directly in the process. For example, at the European Toyota Material Handling production sites about 3,000 proposals for improvements are made each year.