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Known as the “Lean Guru” and the father of Continuous Improvement (CI) Masaaki Imai has been a pioneer and leader in spreading the KAIZEN philosophy all over the world.
Mr. Imai’s ground breaking book, “Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success” was an instant global best seller, firmly embedding the word Kaizen in the corporate lexicon. It was the first book (1986) to introduce the ‘LEAN’ philosophy to the world, four years before the book “The Machine That Changed The World: The Story of Lean Production”. His firsthand account is based on his close associations and travels with such legendary giants as Shoichiro Toyoda and Taichi Ohno and reveals the secrets behind the success of Toyota and other Japanese companies.
Mr. Imai’s sequel book on this subject “Gemba KAIZEN: A Commonsense, Low-cost Approach to Management” was published in 1997. This book uses relevant case studies to detail 21 practical KAIZEN management practices, including methodologies and tools to be applied where the real action takes place. The result: greater productivity, quality and profits achieved with minimal cost and time.
The concept of KAIZEN is to make simple, common sense improvements and refinements to critical end-to-end business processes- supporting the overall CI strategy of the organization. In the mid-eighties Mr. Imai brought this message to executives of the leading North American carmakers. The message was premature and we see the results today. No one would have guessed that by 2009 Toyota would replace GM as the world leader. Today, companies around the world have used KAIZEN for greater productivity, speed, quality and profits with minimal cost, time and effort, to get results and to become recognized industry leaders.
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By Masaaki Imai