The Kaizen 20 Keys to Workplace Improvement Explained with examples

In Kaizen’s methodology, the 20 Keys to Workplace Improvement are popular but very abstract topic. We want to explain with real examples the 20 Keys to Workplace Improvement in Kaizen created by Iwao Kobayashi a long time ago.

The 20 Keys to Workplace Improvement are Explained with the following logic

1. Description of the abstract statement of the Iwao Kobayashi. The explanation follows modern management and development terminology and approaches.

2. The roles inside the organization who may introduce each Kaizen key

Management style with engagement and involvement. Work with all people to engage their minds and hearts, both in work and in their hands.

Make it easier for people in the organization to take on any company employee. To make their role and responsibilities more transparent. Managers and team leaders to be felt like part of a team, to communicate and work with each employee, and to show their commitment and commitment to each one.

Participants: all management

Teamwork. Focus on teamwork to get everyone involved in enthusiastic improvements.

In order to improve teamwork, which is a continuous process of Continuous Improvement process, we need to work in the following aspects
Managers and Team Leaders – Follow the lead by example method, they are the individuals who should set an example for their employees.
Communication – regular, clear, transparent. Sharing information and knowledge with team members and the entire company.
Reporting and rewarding employees have shown excellent results, as well as those who have sought them.
Managers and team leaders need to be grateful to their employees. That way, they feel appreciated
Organization of corporate events – to which there is a rule – not to talk about work 🙂

Participants: All teams

Employee support and training. Training employees to work at a higher level so that they can increase the value they add to the work.

Regularly organized training for employees to increase their competencies to apply in their daily work. Training offers to come not only from the managers to their team but also in the opposite direction. Provide an opportunity for each employee to offer training that they believe would be useful for their work and would bring benefits to the organization. The training can be delivered during annual Performance reviews and subsequently organized throughout the year.

Participants: all employees and management

Continuous improvement in the workplace. Creating improvement as a way of life, constantly improving work and better jobs.

Creating a comfortable working atmosphere in order to make it pleasant for each of the employees, his stay in the office. A comfortable workplace with all the tools you need to work. Relaxation rooms, kitchen.
Provide work-from-home opportunities if position and responsibilities allow. This will save time for employees, which can turn it into a time where they can complete an extra task or catch up with work.

Participants: Management and HR department, as well as requesting the whole company

Reduce the time to replace dies and machines for more flexible operation. (Logically, in processes where machines and tools are not involved, you can focus on reducing technology time for your operations)

For the overall improvement of processes, elimination of redundancy and reduction of work, especially manual work, we can rely on the 7 guiding principles in ITIL 4, namely

  • Focus on value
  • Start where you are
  • Progress iteratively with feedback
  • Collaborate and promote visibility
  • Think and work holistically
  • Keep it simple and practical
  • Optimize and automate

Participants: Development Manager, Product Manager, BA, Scrum Master

Clean and tidy. Everywhere and all the time.

A clean environment is a prerequisite for improving the workplace and making employees feel good.

Participants: HR, as well as any company employee

Efficiency. Balancing financial problems with other areas that indirectly affect costs.

I’m not sure I understand the question. Financial issues need to be addressed by the organization’s CFO.
Planning. The timing of operations is planned to create a flow of high quality and affordable products.
Good task planning. By imposing and following the SCRUM framework of work. Creating Product Backlog, Sprint backlog, and conducting Sprint review meetings, retrospective meetings, Backlog grooming meetings. This way, it will be able to iteratively deliver new functionalities of a working product to the customer. There will be a clear plan and what needs to be developed in the future.

Participants: Team Managers, Scrum Master, Product Manager, Solution Architect, Developers, BA, QA

To understand better most of the Kaizen keys explained in this article, please also read the article Kanban vs. Scrum: What Are the Differences Between Scrum and Kanban

Create interconnected cells where flow and download are the main order of the day.

We can interpret that your related processes must be in order and not impeded. Results throughout the day and at the end of the day are important.
We can address this key as I wrote above in the Planner key. The role of the Scrum master in a team is to maintain the developers focus on the goal and eliminate any obstacles that might arise

Participants: Team Managers, Scrum Master, Product Manager, Solution Architect, Developers, BA, QA

Disciplined, rhythmic work. Synchronized systems where all parts work together.

This can be achieved by building clear and easy processes that employees know well. This “key” is part of the above “Management style with engagement and involvement”, “Teamwork”, “Planning”

Participants: Team Managers, Scrum Master, Product Manager, Solution Architect, Developers, BA, QA

Technology. Using and training more sophisticated technologies and adapting teams to them.

Related to organizing training and developing people.

The new technology makes it possible to perform tasks and produce products more optimally, quickly and efficiently. New technologies are driving interest in employees.
Defects. Defects management, including defective parts and connections.
Defects management in our organization is managed by a QA team that tests every piece of software developed in an established environment.

Participants: QA Team, Scrum Master, Solution Architect, Product Manager


Employees work with colleagues from different departments and even change departments to gain experience in other areas
To achieve this, we need to start with the onboarding process of new employees. It is a practice in many companies for employees to spend between 4 hours and 2 days in different departments to learn about the nature of work and how they will interact with their new colleagues and the responsibilities they have.

Cross-functional work is extremely useful when using the Scrum framework, which encourages each member of the Scrum team to help achieve the goal

Participants: Scrum Master, Solution Architect, Product Manager, QA Team, Management

Reduced inventory and lead time. Dealing with overproduction and reducing costs and time.

This can be achieved through the implementation of a group of other points, namely – Planning, Waste Removal, Technology, Teamwork, Training.

Zero monitoring. Build systems that avoid the need for human monitoring on an ongoing basis. Instead, create a team that works to maintain and improve your technology.

In order to reduce or achieve zero monitoring, it is appropriate to improve the Event Management process. Implement a tool that monitors systems and, on the basis of specific indicators and configuration, sends out irregularity information, as well as periodic reports based on which teams work to improve the environment and technology.

Participants: Admin Team, Dev Teams

Waste. Constantly identifying and eliminating things that either don’t add value or even destroy it.

From a Scrum perspective, regular Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective meetings can identify and eliminate waste.

Participants: The whole Scrum team

Partnerships between suppliers. Working with suppliers that makes them part of a constantly improving chain instead of struggling with them.

Selecting the best suppliers as needed and building good and close relationships with them. Through regular and positive communication, correct payments, their inclusion in corporate events, so that they feel like part of the company team.
Risks: I find no risks.
Technology and competitive engineering. Understanding and using methods such as concurrent engineering and Taguchi methods.
By organizing regular competency training

Participants: Tee Managers, HR department, employees

Conservation. Saving resources to avoid waste for both the company and the community and the environment.

Accurately calculate the required resources through good planning based on clear requirements!

Participants: Responsibility of all employees

Support. Maintenance of machines by people who work with them, not by external specialists. This allows for constant adjustment and minimal downtime.

Building competencies in people to support the machines, devices, and technologies they work with. Additional SME items (Subject matter expert) should be introduced if necessary. This is a person who is an expert in the field and can provide advice and ideas not only on maintenance but also in improving the day-to-day work of employees. Also, if there is none, a team can be formed to support these systems. In any case, it is necessary to make a financial statement.

Participants: Team Managers and Expert Staff

Risks: Increasing the cost of maintenance itself.

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