When discussing the concept of Kaizen, most people ask what the best Kaizen book I’d recommend, to help them get to grips with implementing it. You’ll find my one pick that i recommend to my clients, due to it’s simplicity and impact.
To start, let’s get a refresher.
Kaizen is the Japanese meaning for continuous improvement. In lean, it has a central focus and is often used to make daily improvements and also implement longer term improvement projects (these are often called Kaizen Workshops or Kaizen events).
In my consultancy practice, it’s the only real Japanese term I use. The other lean tools I define are via their English equivalent.
Kaizen though, is like a standalone concept. It’s so universally known and written about, that most people call it that way. From large corporations to people getting started in lean – most people know Kaizen.
Questions to Ask From the Perfect Kaizen Book
With that said, lots of people search each month for the best Kaizen book, mostly to understand it in more and how to implement it. The common questions (and I found myself asking when I was learning), are:
- What exactly is Kaizen – have i missed or over simplified it?
- How to get the best out of Kaizen?
- How do i implement Kaizen as part of the culture of my business?
- What are the steps of Kaizen?
As a lean practitioner myself, my recommended choice, and to answer the above questions, is Mike Rother’s The Toyota Kata Practice Guide.
Why Kaizen is More Than an Event
The truth is, most lean efforts fail. In fact, as much as 95% of them don’t last. Rother spent a while observing Toyota (the birthplace of lean) to see why they can sustain their way of working.
In his Kaizen Book, “The Toyota Kata Practice Guide”, Rother deciphers the culture of Toyota. He unpicks exactly why they have been successful at maintaining lean and creating a true continuous improvement culture.
In my opinion, he shows you two key concepts:
- Empower your teams to drive scientific improvements
- Spend 20 minutes a day coaching them it through the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle
The Toyota Kata Practice Guide
This book will show you exactly how to implement the above and create a continuous improvement culture….All from this great little Kaizen book.
You’ll find the recipe to create continuous improvement every day and to drive Kaizen throughout the whole organisation.
The Toyota Kata Practice Guide shows you that by spending 20 minutes per day, you can develop a true continuous improvement culture, that’s driven by the employees in the business.
It’s written in a simple but extremely effective way. Coupled with the templates provided, you can read it, understand and apply very quickly indeed.
And if you’re used to me by now, you’ll know that my preference is to find and use material that’s quick to consume and apply – this leaves me with spending more time applying what I’ve learned.
It’s proved me well over the years, and this book fits my style.
One of Toyota’s secrets is that all decisions are based on observations. When you drill it down, the format is similar to the Scientific process of discovery:
- Identify what you want to improve.
- Create a theory on what should happen when you implement it
- Observe what happens
- Make decisions based on what you observe
The Toyota Kata Practice Guide teaches you this scientific method of making improvements.
As part of this, it shows you with illustrations and templates to use yourself, how to implement this step-by-step process.
This whole approached is steeped in the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Framework. Soon enough, you’ll be able to bring it all together, to understand what to do, how to do it, and how to effectively use PDCA to drive continuous improvement, culture change and daily Kaizen.
The Recipe I Use For Teaching My Clients
This book has shown me how incredibly simple Kaizen and lean really is.
You’ll often here practitioners overcomplicating most tools and techniques. They imply that these tools have to be mastered over years and that there’s an mystical black magic to them.
I say rubbish!
The Toyota Kata Guide will show you exactly that. It de-bunks those that try to insinuate that Kazien is more complicated. It’s not.
Follow the steps. Use the templates provided, and you’ll be well on your way to success.
I use the framework provided in this very book to coach my clients on how to implement kaizen and how to get their leaders to be true lean leaders and drive daily improvements.
For me, it’s a god send and has helped me define my own style of consulting. And now i share it to you! Enjoy. Get your copy on Amazon.