Moshi Moshi brave Leaners!
改善 Kaizen - Good Change (Continuous improvement)
The Sino-Japanese word "kaizen" simply means "change for better", with no inherent meaning of either "continuous" or "philosophy" in Japanese dictionaries or in everyday use.
However, given the common practice in Japan of labeling industrial or business improvement techniques with the word "kaizen" (for lack of a specific Japanese word meaning "continuous improvement" or "philosophy of improvement"), especially in the case of oft-emulated practices spearheaded by Toyota, the word Kaizen in English is typically applied to measures for implementing continuous improvement, or even taken to mean a "Japanese philosophy" thereof.
ARTICLE McDonald’s: a story of lean customer service
Although it started as a manufacturing philosophy, lean is now being taken care of by the companies in the different fields, which have seen the benefits of its application in their working environments.
Take McDonald’s as an example. There are a few things we could say about the application of lean across this company, but their customer service deserves special mention here. Let’s see how this has evolved.
Despite being a fast food company, not long ago, McDonald’s restaurants used to have important queues. We are talking about a, so 10, 15 and even 20 minutes’ wait, especially during rush hours. This wasn’t ideal for a fast food company that could serve customers in less than 2 minutes.
In order to decrease the waiting time in queues, sometime later, the quick till system was introduced. While the cashier was taking an order, another person would serve the previous client. By dividing the workload – one taking the order and the other one preparing the meal – both could serve more customers than two cashiers doing the whole process of ordering and preparing the food separately. This improvement increased the speed of service and reduced the waiting time.
After the quick till, McDonald’s could have focused in other areas, since the customer service speed had substantially increased. But they didn’t, instead they carried on with the Lean thinking and took advantage of the technology to further reduce the customer waiting time. Following this, McDonald’s recently introduced the touch screen ordering to eliminate the non-value added time (the customer pays for the food, not for ordering the food). Clients can now order their food in the screens and, almost instantly, it is ready to be taken, increasing the speed of the process and reducing queues.
Obviously, the quick till and the touch-screen systems are not for everybody; some people prefer human contact and do not bother about waiting 10 or even more minutes for their meals.
But many others would rather avoid queues even if this mean they have to do part of the job themselves.
ARTICLE Why lean enterprise transformation is hard
Everyone knows that big cross-organizational change is difficult. However, not all organizational transformation is the same. This is particularly true for businesses looking to become fundamentally more entrepreneurial, the lean enterprises that create original market value as a repeatable core competency. The transformation to becoming a lean entrepreneurial enterprise faces unique challenges for business models; it relies on silo busting and cross-organizational collaboration.
The transformation into Entrepreneurial Enterprise is genuinely difficult, but it can be done.
Today’s hyper-creative marketplace is insistent and uncompromising. Organizations must have an institutional capability for repeated original innovation and the ability to adapt to rapidly changing opportunities. This is a challenge with no easy answers, but it is a journey well worth the effort.
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