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Vishwadeep Khatri

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Kaizen - A Japanese word for 'change for better', it refers to incremental improvements at the workplace. Most popular methodology for Kaizen is Quality circles or Small Group Activities

An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Anirud Sinha on 26th September 2017. 


Applause for all respondents - Nayeem Raffi, Suribabu, Kalpesh, Nichenametla Gautam, VicSachin, Yogish Kumar, Manjeet Sachdeva, Vastupal Vashishtha, Takur, Girish Kumar, Christina M, Prabhakar Acharya, Harishkumar, Bheemannadora Sappa, Akshay Mhatre and Anirud Sinha.


Q. 96  The term “Kaizen” used for “continuous improvement,” originally translates from Japanese as “change for better.” Talking about the priority in such improvements, TPS expert Shigeo Shingo provided us with four targets in order of their priority: 1. Easier 2. Better 3. Faster 4. Cheaper


Do you agree with the priority of the targets? What do you think it should ideally be? 


Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

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Priority should be 1. Easier 2. Better 3. Faster 4. Cheaper


Easier a process will allow the person (having the skill set as Low) to understand the whole process better and compute the result faster thus reducing the overall turnaround time eventually making the process cheaper. Also easier a process will also increase the productivity (user can do much more transactions in less time) and accuracy ( process is easy to understand and does not require complex processing).


Also if the process is easier then there is no need for the company to hire associates with high skill set and thus saving overall cost.


Giving priority to better over easier may result in the better process being too complex and not easy to understand and require highly skilled labourers to work on the process.


Giving priority to faster over easier and better would result in end product being delivered more quickly however defects/errors will increase as the process may be complex require additional validation or non value adding stages.


From management perspective, "Cheaper" or "Cost-Saving" is the main objective however if "Cheaper" is given the utmost priority then it could result in hiring costly man-power or investing time and money in training the employees whereas in case of easier process, minimal efforts are required to train the employees.


Hence making a process easier would ultimately lead to process being better, faster and cheaper.        

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TPS expert Shigeo Shingo  provided us with four targets for Kaizen in order of their priority: 1. Easier 2. Better 3. Faster 4. Cheaper


We agree with the priorities of the target because


1. "Easier" is an improvement point from operator point of view, it also focus on safety. safety is first priority.

2. "Better" is an quality improvement activity of the product/operation.

3. "Faster" is an improvement activity to improve the efficiency

4. "Cheaper" is the last target of all improvement activities.



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I agree with the priority of thd targets because “Easier” is an improvement from the point of the operator. This also means that it is safer for the operator to do. Any improvement activity should be first focused on Safety. “Better” is an improvement activity resulting in an improvement in quality of the operation/product. “Faster” is an improvement activity that increases efficiency. The final level is “cheaper”, and this should be the last target of all improvement activities.

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Priority should be changed basis the process capability. Basis the business sustainably, aggressiveness, preparedness of the leadership team. For a more aggressive team the priority should be Better-faster-cheaper-Easier. For a safer decision basis the risk factors it should be Cheaper-easier-better-faster

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Kaizen is used for continuous improvement and it includes all four factors like Easy Kaizen, Better kaizen, Fast Kaizen and last Cheap kaizen.

Cheap Kaizen is a kind of kaizen like to eliminate quality defects using waste material.

Easy Kaizen is like to either change the method for detection or change the operation sequences in assembly line.

Better Kaizen is like whether some amount spent to do the kaizen but its outcome will be tangible.

Fast kaizen is just to solve the difficulties on the doing a simple step on the spot.


These are the types of kaizen, so there is no need to set priorities for these factors. 

It depends on the demand of the situation.


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The idea of KAIZEN was to involve as many participants as possible.

The priority was set with line of increasing difficulty and increasing skill/ knowledge required to provide a KAIZEN.

However this was for reference only and brilliant ideas can come from least expected source.

The word Zen in KAIZEN has a significance of “Holiness” in Japanese culture and KAINZEN reflects efforts to achieve that Holiness in small dedicated steps therefore the priority of targets does not matter in this path.

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Their priority: 1. Easier 2. Better 3. Faster 4. Cheaper


Yes i will agree with the priority of the targets,


Justification: one of the QMS principle says People at all levels are the essence of the organisation,


So if the people think its Easier, Better, Faster & Cheaper implementation can save the time and Cost that will add profit to organisation, and moreover Today's business world is running on QCDS it means Quality Cost Delivery & Service, hence this kind of targets helps a lot towards continual improvement.


Thanks & Regards

Yogish kumar .N

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E: Efficient: Achieving maximum productivity with minimum waste

C: Constant / Continuous: Resulting is Permanent Change with continuous roll over effect.

A: Appropriate: Suitable or proper in the circumstances

N: Niche: Specialized & Not in general, to be specially designed for improvement of a process

D: Do able in Time Frame: Ease of applicability, Implementable and Measurable within a specific timeframe.

Y: Yielding: High Returns in economic terms.

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Thanks VK for bringing this up. Very relevant question for current business world which is transforming very rapidly.

My view is as follows.

TPS expert Shigeo Shingo has provided us a good base on Kaizen event target prioritization. while this target prioritization is largely applicable and very relevant all industries, the order may change a bit from industry to industry or organization to organization in current scenarios.

For example,

A cash rich manufacturer may follow the order like 1) Better 2) Easier 3) Faster 4) Cheaper. Spending for the idea implementation not a problem for this company but they want best change in their process which is bit easier though takes some additional time.


The order may change to the company which is trying to settle in the market with low working capital. It may be like 1) Cheaper 2) Easier 3)Faster 4)Better.  This organization might be looking for quick solutions which can give quick benefit and relief with low cost though it could be short term fix.


Sometimes if we want "Better" as first priority, "Cheaper" would become last one. similarly if we go for "Easier" it may not be the "Better".

Though these are looking like 4 different targets, all are interlinked like below.

Easier solution is faster also to implement

Better solution may not be a easier and cheaper one and vice versa.

Faster implementation may become costlier


Conclusion - in current rapid transforming world, Kaizen target priority order will change depending on the customer's requirements and hunger towards solving the problem. We have to consider all four targets for sure but the order of consideration differs depending on the time, scope, quality and cost.


Finally whatever order we follow, a Kaizen project should be faster(Implementation time), cheaper(Less cost to implement), better (Best possible from the lot) and easier (No complex strings) when compared to any other project execution methods.




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Kaizen is usually 3-5 day focussed event. I believe it can be 1. Easier 2. Faster 3. Cheaper 4. Better

1. Easier- This should be easier for implementing the idea

2. Faster- This shouldn't be too complicated as it will be difficult to implement the improvement idea

3. Cheaper- Most of the companies focus on process improvement in minimal cost with the existing resources

4.Better- It should be better than the existing process which can add value to the process



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Yes i agree with the priority of targates given by TPS expert Shigeo Shingo. 


1. “Easier” is an improvement from the point of the operator. This should also mean that it’s safer for the operator to do; any improvement activity should first be focused on safety.


2. “Better” is an improvement activity that improves the quality of the operation and/or product.


3. “Faster” is an improvement activity that increases efficiency.


4. “cheaper,” should be the least critical of the improvement activities. 



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I think the four targets, if reorganized in this priority: 1. Better 2. Easier 3. Faster 4. Cheaper, shall make more sense and may yield expected benefit to the organization.

1. Better: When a Kaizen idea is proposed for a process, the improvement idea should make the performance of current process ‘better’ than existing one. Else, there is no business case for making the organization/floor accept such a change. So, the change should be first of all ‘Better’.


2. Easier: Kaizen should enable the business owners and workforce to accept the change. To be able to convince them, the change should be easier for them to adhere to. Transition should be seamless.


3. Faster: The idea or change which was proposed to the floor should be implementable in a faster turnaround time. This means the organization should be in fast track to implement the process change to see the results in short term.


4. Cheaper: The cost of such change is of least importance because a normal or moderate cost for implementing such a change will not impact the business in long run, especially when the volume of transactions/process is high. The cost divided by total transactions will tell us that such cost are miniscule when compared to the benefit it yields to the business.

A better kaizen which is easier to use, fast enough to implement at a moderate cost will yield much greater benefits to the business in the long run.

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Quoting Shingo, these goals are set in order of priority. Some experts argue that this does not include "safety" while others argue that safety is the basic assumption and hence, not included. Some experts also say that the priority needs to be chosen depending on the situation.


The chosen best answer is that of Anirud Sinha as he outlines the explanation for the priority and also mentions what would happen if the priority were changed. The thought process is that easier and better will automatically lead to faster and cheaper.

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