Continuous improvement is a process carried out in an organization to continually eradicate problems from their root causes (Marsh 1998). It is a paradigm that is deeply entrenched in the total quality management tenets. It is a step by step process rather than a onetime overhaul event. This, therefore, qualifies the term continuous since it is a bit by bit process, each involving continuous improvement. The history of continuous improvement has roots in the Japanese business fraternity. The philosophy of continuous improvement permeates the Japanese business culture in a great way. Kaizen is the Japanese word that represents continuous improvement. Kaizen was initially implemented in the Japanese business community after the Second World War. It was a product of quality management by lecturers who had toured the country (Marsh 1998). However, the principles of continuous improvement are now practiced all around the world. This is due to the fact that continuous improvement can be applied in various sectors. For instance, it has been inculcated in several government frameworks, the health care sector, banking industry, and the recent beneficiary being the supply chain. The main objective of continuous improvement is to eliminate waste of resources. Initially, the Japanese practiced continuous improvement in the engineering sector and manufacturing, hence it was applied to facilitate reduction in cost. Continuous improvement, thus, involves all stakeholders from management to the employees in search for waste avenues and continually reducing the wastes. Continuous improvement design is dynamic from organization to organization. It is, hence, difficult for a company to adopt another company's continuous improvement strategy due to the complexities involved (Poirier & Houser 1993). This paper explains what continuous improvement is in the context of an organization's success. It seeks to demonstrate the opportunities and benefits that accrue to an organization that appropriately implements the concept of continuous improvement. Emergence of the continuous improvement policy
Following the end of World War II, the United States of America felt obliged to assist some nations with their nation building endeavors, and Japan happened to be one of the beneficiaries of the mission. In these tours, the US lecturers and advisors emphasized on process efficiency other than results. This implied ensuring that the organization was continually improving. The fruits of the advice are currently evident; for instance, the Toyota production system which improved and gave rise to the just in time production method. The total quality management policy is also a fruit of the Japanese emphasis on continuous improvements. Kaizen was adopted from the popularity of the tenet of quality control by a majority of the western companies. The Japanese are, thus, regarded as having embraced continuous improvement policies better as compared to the innovation (Dessinger 2004). Organization attitude required for Kaizen implementation
Judging from the products and policies emanating from the Japanese community, it is notable that the Japanese are generally very keen to detail. For instance, the Japanese’s community obligation to detail is evident in the total quality management policy or the just in time policy that strictly adheres to the client’s details and produces high end output. This is the kind of attitude that is deemed necessary for the smooth implementation of the policy in organizations. This implies that for the efficient implementation of the Keizen policy, there is a requirement to instill a corporate culture that emphasizes on quality and keen detail. This is the kind of culture which seeks feedback from the key stakeholders who interact with the organization on a frequent basis. The corporate culture should also be framed in such a way that it facilitates...