Top navbar


Kaizen in Office

Yogesh Vaghani 2017-01-17

In my last article, Kaizen in everyday life, I’d shared that one of the most notable features of Kaizen is that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time.

By implementing Kaizen, the philosophy of continual improvement, not just an office but all the aspects of human life can qualitatively witness a sea-change.

Suffice is to say that Kaizen is synonymous with efficiency, competence and meticulous execution.When it's yoked with Lean (the western way: Curbing and controlling the waste/Lean principles are derived from the Japanese manufacturing industry. The term was first coined by John Krafcik in his 1988 article, "Triumph of the Lean Production System), the results are remarkable.

Doing Kaizen in the office helps you answer these questions: 

  • How to improve quality of services while reducing costs!
  • What if you could ensure smooth flow of information and materials!
  • How would you increase productivity despite limited resource!
  • How to develop a common language to talk about your processes! 
  • What would you do to eliminate waste and improve customer satisfaction!   

Kaizen asks you to get rid of old assumptions. It makes you ask right questions. It asks you to start with the improvement even if you’re half ready. You don’t need to be perfect to make an improvement rather perfection will be achieved by doing it. Fix the problems then and there. Analyse the situation by questioning the premise at the root of the problem. The foundations of Kaizen line in its 4 principles, which are–

  • Attention to Detail
  • Respect for Time
  • Attitude for Perfection
  • Willingness to Change

Buddha said that 'Life is very simple, we make it unnecessarily complicated.' This simple but sound philosophy can be better understood when Kaizen is implemented and exercised in office. We will then realize that we're valuing complexity more than simplicity.

Kaizen philosophy and principles of continuous progress and Lean both focus on waste elimination. Shoichiro Toyoda , President, Toyota said, “Waste is ‘anything other than the minimum amount of equipment, materials, parts, space, and employee’s time, which are absolutely essential to add value to the product.

These wastes in the office area, stores or canteen do not add value to the customer, and limit the organisational capability, quality and flexibility.The following types of wastes can be reduced in an office:

  • Defects &Errors - in service transaction, defects, goods
  • Over Production – Duplication, re-entering data, copy information
  • Waiting – for information, decision, supplies , on the part of the customer, queues, response
  • Inventory - out of stock, substitution
  • Motion - queue several times, no one window, Unnecessary movement
  • Unclear communication - need to ask more than once
  • Opportunity lost - to win new customers, losing existing customers, ignoring customers
  • Underutilization of employee skills –not utilizing or mentoring the intrinsic talent in people
  • Unsafe workingconditions and environments -- Employee accidents and health issues
  • Equipment breakdown -- Poorly maintained equipment can result in damage and cost resources of both time and money.


Let me give a humorous and humane touch to this by adding that the Japanese word for wasteMUDA sounds in toto with Murda in Hindi and a MURDA (dead body) is just useless.

This MUDA comes in many avatars: Obstruction to flow is MUDA. MUDA adds to cost. In other words, MUDA reduction reduces costs.

Let’s see an example. How many employees does it take to change a printer cartridge? In a traditional company, it takes a whole unit. One will determine who change it; another will go buy a replacement because it was not stored; one will do a costing of this whole activity.

Kaizen waste module in office:

  • Use 5S to clean up all office clutter. Maintain and sustain these changes to the office continuously improve to increase efficiencies
  • Draw a Spaghetti diagram to map the movement of thepeople involved in services, products and documents. It will give you a list of the time wasted in motion, transportation, waiting, inventory which can be easily eliminated.
  • Map and standardise process like procurement, storage and replacement etc to simplify operations. Deviations become immediately visible when flow of activities is illustrated.
  • Use Visual controls to manage the operation, including schedules, performance tracking, and project status.Use aCommunication Board to level load of invoice processing and track progress throughout the day.

This way teams working in the office can monitor the metrics that matter the most. Not just in office, the Kaizen mantra embraces: As simple as it gets. DECLUTTERING of UNNECESSARY and REFURBISHING the existing usefulness is the root of Kaizen competence in office.

Share your views