If you're not Japanese or a card-carrying car manufacturer, chances are you might have missed hearing about kaizen. Is it a fancy new fuel cell? How about those jet packs we were promised? Neither -- disappointing, we know. It's actually a business philosophy that sets the foundation of the Japanese automakers' development process.
Although technically not a new development, kaizen is so tied in with technical trends in the world of auto manufacturing, it definitely deserves a mention. Kaizen rose to popularity following World War II, when many Japanese industries faced the struggle of having to rebuild their businesses from scratch. Commonly translated along the lines of "continuous improvement," kaizen involves a constant and steady search for ways to improve methods and increase standards.
And it's not just for managers either -- top to bottom, all employees must strive to identify problems and suggest solutions for fixing them. By doing so, not only is everyone more engaged in the process, they're also contributing to increased quality and productivity.
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