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What Is Kaizen, and Why Is It Important?

tmh associate stands next to a white board teaching, as three tmh associates sit at desks watching
Posted: May 27, 2021
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The word Kaizen is extremely important when it comes to the culture of Toyota Forklifts. It drives us toward improvement and continues to propel us forward in times of change. To better understand what Kaizen is, and what it means to Toyota, let’s take a deeper dive.

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen can be translated as Kai=”change”, and Zen=”for better”, so “change for better”. This helps us remember that no process is perfect and that challenges, no matter how big or small, should be welcomed. Toyota has the mindset that improvements can be made every single day, no matter how well you performed the day before. Improving over time can result in cost and time savings that help the organization’s performance.

Why is Kaizen Important?

Kaizen is important because it is a process used to identify key problems at their source. Kaizen can’t just be a one-person job, as every employee needs to be active in making small improvements on a frequent basis. The most common ways that Kaizen can make a difference are:


  1. Reduce Waste – Reducing waste can decrease your costs by getting rid of unnecessary items, reducing working movement, or decreasing wait times on certain products.
  2. Organizational Competitiveness – When you create a culture of kaizen and all associates buy in, you may get what we call organizational competitiveness. When one employee sees another improving their process and working to help the company, they will want to take action in their role and work to do the same thing. Creating this type of culture can really help improve overall processes, instead of only in certain areas.
  3. Employee Engagement – As we mentioned before, Kaizen involves everyone, which gives associates a greater sense of pride and responsibility in their jobs. Keeping employee morale high could also lead to longer employee retention.

Toyota Production System and Kaizen

The Toyota Production System (TPS) is a perfect example of how Kaizen works, and how it can improve your company’s operations. TPS relies on employees to keep an eye out for areas where waste can be removed, thus increasing efficiency. Each employee takes ownership of their work, which they look to make work easier on themselves, as well as on the company. Toyota continues to deliver top-of-the-line products because each employee in the production system is encouraged to offer suggestions to improve processes and streamline production to consistently improve the quality of our forklifts.


Now that you know more about Kaizen, and how Toyota Material Handling utilizes it, try giving it a shot in your own business. If you have any questions, your local authorized Toyota Forklift dealer can help guide you.

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