“Workers, Managers, Productivity – Kaizen in Developing Countries”

Corporations preparing to enter into global market has essential importance on productivity and quality. Both for service and manufacturing; private and public sector, small enterprises or big companies; Total Quality Management-become a tool for better business performance.

*Seminar  “The Learning Enterprise for Quality Growth: Revisiting Kaizen Approach” February 27, 2020, Presented by Dr. John Page, Brookings Institution; Prof. Izumi Ohno, Prof. SATO-Kan, Mr. Tatsuya Kajikawa, Director, Global Consulting Division, ChuSanRen were taken reference for this article.

Observing many case studies; Project teams employ a number of SIX-sigma tools while implementing the improvements. Main tools are observed as: Pareto charts, value stream mapping, kaizen events, 5S system & five-Whys. Those tools help executives to achieve the productivity, in other words- effectiveness and efficiency! But every business models consists of diverse processes. Some cases may be varying with respect to time, i.e. relativity. so, the same formula does not apply for all environments.

Tech-companies may have different stakeholders and so do for continuous improvement

As we are talking on Developing countries; researches undertaken in Ethiopia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa were taken as sample cases- in this seminar*.

The case studies gave multiple examples of Kaizen’s role in promoting learning and applying those things practically on field. Innovation is essential for an economy to grow, and recent literature suggests that Kaizen tools are innovation inputs, enabling firms to take innovative actions, experiment, adopt new technology and achieve innovation. Kaizen makes them active participants in solving problems and pushes managers at all levels to listen to their suggestions for productivity and quality improvements. In that sense it contributes not only to better business performance; it may help to reduce inequality through improvements of workers living standards.

Manufacturing Productivity Extension Program (MPEX) is an embodiment of the Philippines’ effort to increase the competitiveness of its MSMEs through quality and productivity recommendations, most of which embody Kaizen methods and mindset. Evidence from the Philippines indicates a positive relationship between productivity and quality and the adoption of Kaizen-like efforts.

In firms where Kaizen-like efforts were shown to increase productivity and/or quality, it was found that employees became more empowered and managers gained valuable time to invest in other ventures (e.g., other businesses). Managers and employees manifested zest for the continuous improvement mindset. Both groups were also more engaged in decision making from day-to-day operations to identifying improvements that can benefit the company in the long-run.


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