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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very famous book, but academic content is not excellent
The book Kaizen is very famous and it is often cited. Only because of it's fame, it is worth reading already. Imai shows how production is organized in Japan, and he shows the enormous attention given in Japan to continuous improvement. However, he is rather simplistic about the differences between Japan and the West. However, the book gives a good introduction is some...
Published on October 27, 1999 by Ellen

versus
17 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kaizen Myth
For 25 years I have been teaching high level engineers and directors at Honda, Mitsubishi Fuso, Mazda and a host of auto part manufacturers.

Kaizen is a mythical term in modern day business practices. Japan's ability to produce high quality products across the board stems foremost from the from the cultural value of obedience to authority. From a young age...
Published on August 4, 2006 by Richard Alan Posner


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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very famous book, but academic content is not excellent, October 27, 1999
By 
Ellen (the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success (Hardcover)
The book Kaizen is very famous and it is often cited. Only because of it's fame, it is worth reading already. Imai shows how production is organized in Japan, and he shows the enormous attention given in Japan to continuous improvement. However, he is rather simplistic about the differences between Japan and the West. However, the book gives a good introduction is some major themes in the field of continuous improvement and it is the origin of many ideas later cited by other. Thus: worth reading if you want to get to know a basic book about continuous improvements in production processes.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical, March 2, 2003
By 
therosen "therosen" (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success (Hardcover)
Most American businesses no longer worry so much about the Japanese miracle. International focus has moved from Japan to China and back to Europe. Many Japanese companies are now looking to the US for recapitalization and management assistance.
So why is a book on Japanese management techniques still so relevant?
First of all, continuous improvement and lean manufacturing have become universal management tools, not strictly limited to one country. This book presents as good an introduction to the subject as any. With today's focus on execution, this topic are becoming even more current. (Dare I say topical?)
Additionally, understanding continuous improvement is still important in the context of broader corporate change. What are the strength and limitations of incremental changes versus more radical corporate moves? Read the book and learn more.
This book certainly won't turn a mediocre manager into a great leader, but Kaizen is a useful addition to the toolbox of any manager.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sound basis for working out an implementation strategy, October 19, 2001
This review is from: Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success (Hardcover)
This book covers the relevant aspects of Kaizen and its implementation. Don't expect this book to give you a step-by-step implementation plan for your company. It does something better than that: it gives you the understanding to design your own implementation plan. It is a good basis for discussion. I often reference it while lecturing about Kaizen and TPM and take a few sentences from the book to challenge the audience.
Everyone who pioneers in Kaizen in his/her company needs this understanding (and a set of brains to translate the concept to the everday reality, but that's why they pay you the big bucks, I hope).
Although it's a very good book, you will find yourself stimulated to read other material on this topic because it creates an "eager want" to know more and to see the puzzle come together. In the end, no author will do that; finalizing the puzzle is your job...
To be concrete, this book is definately recommended. You'll never understand it all by just reading one book (or by just reading, period). It will give you a quantum leap in your understanding and all concepts will be there. Only action and involvement can do more.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book on Kaizen Concept, May 23, 2006
This review is from: Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success (Hardcover)
This is an excellent book on how production is organised in Japan. It explains the Kaizen concept of continuous improvement and its implementation, highlighting the essential differences between the production and operations management philosophies of the West with those of Japan. The foundation of the Kaizen method consists of five fundamental elements namely teamwork, personal discipline, improved morale, quality circles and suggestions for improvement.

This is a very enlightening book for those who want to understand the basic concepts of continuous improvement (as opposed to innovation or business process reengineering) in the production process and how this has been successfully applied in Japan. Some very successful companies like Toyota owe their success largely to the employment of this concept.

This is essential reading for those who wish to introduce Kaizen in their organisation. The book is written in a simple and easy to follow and understand style. However, the book is becoming a bit dated having been written two decades ago, and in any case, the spotlight nowadays has shifted to China, but nevertheless, this is excellent reading about a concept that is still delivering good value to those companies that are correctly employing it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The economic value of dominant design is its ability to impose itself as a standard in the creation of products, November 10, 2008
By 
Golden Lion "Reader" (North Ogden, Ut United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
1. Japan has gained world economic power through five phases: a) large-scale absorption of technology imported from the US. b) A productivity-drive that strongly supported mechanization, automation, and robotic usage. C) A countrywide quality improvement devotion, set forth by Dr. Demming. D) A great degree of manufacturing flexibility. E) Adoption of a multinational corporation partnerships and structures (global standard component specifications).

2. Worker suggestions are an important feedback component in Japanese management. Management works hard to consider worker suggestions. It is not uncommon for management to spend a whole day listening to presentations of activities by Quality circles. The central idea involves listening to improve process and rewards for results.

3. Japanese management focuses on standards. Worker suggestions lead to implementation of the suggestion and revising of standards. Toyoda said, "One of the features of the Japanese worker is they use their brains as well as their hands." Improving standards means raising quality levels.

4. Intense domestic competition is thought to be the driving force for Japanese companies in overseas market. Japanese compete for larger market share through the introduction of new and more competitive products and by using and improving the latest technologies.

5. Why is it important that management establish process-criteria for Quality circles? Quality circles use process criteria to approach their subjects. Process-criteria affect the number of meetings, the amount of participation, and the number of problems solved. Do the Quality circles take into consideration safety, quality, and costs in working out the subject problem? Do the efforts of the Quality circle lead to improvements in work standards? Process criteria are used in evaluating efforts, participation, and commitments.

6. Result criteria usually relates to sales, cost, and profit.

7. A system once it is installed due to innovation is subject to steady deterioration unless continuing efforts are made to maintain it and then to improve it. Kaizen is the small and continuous effort and commitment to improve.

8. Kaizen believes that standards are stepping-stones, one standard leading to another higher standard as continue efforts are made. This is the reason Quality circles solve one problem they move on to another.

9. Kaizen calls for substantial management commitment of time and effort. Infusions of capital are no substitutes for time and effort. Investing in Kaizen means investing in people.

10. Kaizen philosophy is better suite to a slow-growth economy. In a slow-growth economy characterized by high costs of energy and materials, overcapacity, and stagnant markets, Kaizen often has a better payoff than innovation does. "It is extremely difficult to increase sales by 10 percent. But it is not so difficult to cut manufacturing costs by 10 percent to event better effect."

11. Kaizen's impact is normally more visible closer to production and market, and innovation's impact is more visible closer to science and technology.

12. Moritani praises Western researcher enthusiasm in tackling challenging projects but says they will be at a disadvantage in meeting the Japanese challenge in mass-produced high-technology products if they only concentrate only on the great-leap-forward approach and forget everyday Kaizen.

13. Kenchi Imai says, "The economic value of dominant design is its ability to impose itself as a standard in the creation of products."

14. In Japan production takes off with a bang, quickly reaching yearly outputs of a million units or more. American and Europe companies are amazed by this and cautious in their expansion of production, and often contenting themselves with doubling every three to four years. Rapid expansion is possible through the infusion and unification of development, design, and production. Moritani says, "Outstanding college educated engineers are assigned in large numbers to the production line, and many are given important say in business operations" and "engineers involved in development and design always visit the production line and talk things over with their counterparts on the floor."

15. Productive is a measurement and not a reality. Productivity is a description of the current state of affairs and the past efforts of people.

16. Quality is the measurement and inspection of defect. No matter how hard you inspect a product you will not improve quality. However, one way to improve quality is to improve the production process. You must build quality into the product and process, at the time of development.

17. Total Quality Control goal is solve problems, establish standards to prevent reoccurrences, build products that satisfy customer, facilitate change in severe corporate environments, win customer confidence, and improve profitability. Management should look at the steps that follow in the process. Management motto should be "Lets improve process" and accomplished by encouraging constant feedback and communication with the worker. In order to develop a product that satisfies customers, data must be collected by sales and marketing, and to some extent, the complaint department.

18. Masumasa Imaizumi says, "An Enterprise can prosper only when customers who purchase the product are satisfied...In other words, the only thing an enterprise can offer customers is quality. " If quality is to be maintained there must be smooth communication among all people at every production stage. There must be no departmental enemies. Ishikawa calls this "the next process is the customer." The customer is the next person in the process, not just the final customer. "The entire concept of quality assurance thus rests on the premise that assuring quality to each customer at each stage will assure quality in the finished product."

19. Too many companies, both in Japan and abroad, whose top management pays lip service to the concept of satisfying customer but does not have a system to achieve it.

20. Japanese management generally believes that a manager should spend at least 50 percent of his time on improvement. Engineer improvement are often shot down when a new and different method of operation does not have a way to quantify the improvement in financial terms.

21. Opportunities for improvement are everywhere. The first and easiest place to start Kaizen is at the work place by cutting cost and eliminating waste. Quality Control circles plan, do, check, and action will make work meaningful and worthwhile.

22. Quality control circle is defined as a small group that voluntarily performs quality control activities within the shop where its members work, the small group carrying out it work continuously as part of a company-wide program of quality control, self-development, mutual development, and flow control and improvement within the workshop.

23. Getting productive ideas from employees is not so much a matter of having creative employees as it is one of having supporting management.

24. Here are some of the main subjects in Japanese company suggestions: a. improvements in one's work b. savings in energy, material, and other resources. C. improvements in working environment d. improvements in machines and processes e. improvements in jigs and tools. F. Improvements in office work g. improvements in product quality. H. Ideas for new products I. customer services and customer relationships.

25. Goals are quantitative figures established by management. Measures, are specific action programs to achieve a goal. A goal that is not expressed in terms of specific measures is merely a slogan. It is imperative that top management determine both the goals and measure and then deploy them throughout the organization.

26. Without cross-functional goals, the departments with the loudest voices tend to win interdepartmental negotiations, regardless of the impact on company-wide goals. Cross-functional management is concerned with building a better system from quality, cost, and scheduling.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kaizen- the strategies for future success, October 29, 2003
By 
Alex Pun (Hong Kong SAR, China) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success (Hardcover)
Kaizen, a Japanese word means improvement. How can Japanese enterprise success is the main topic in this book. Actually, Japan has been under economic recession for nearly 10 years. But the Japanese enterprise can still survive, and some enterprises are under the list of Fortune 500. There must be some secret behind.
This first version of this book is written in 1986, Japan at that moment still maintain a high growth, and Japanese enterprise takes a major role in the global business environment. The author found that the major reasons are due to their modification rather than innovation. And these management concepts were learned by foreign companies and used as a framework to develop their management structure. From this book, you will learn lots of the Japanese culture and Japanese management style.
Moreover, you also understand the history of management development. Most of the management concepts used in foreign countries are based on Japanese firm. Like the TQM, process oriented management, and strategies in R&D. So, after reading the book, you will learn the difference between western working culture and Japanese one.
Before writing this book, the author has done lots of primary research, and he try to summary all the findings and success factor of major Japanese enterprise, like Toyota, NTT. And all these companies now become the Global 100 companies. After reading this book, you will learn more about the success story of these enterprises, and you will also know that their history and culture as well.
But, there is some limitation, because the book has been written nearly twenty years before, the business environment is totally changed, the competition and the consumer behaviour have been changed, therefore some of the strategies are not applicable. Also, the failures of some Japanese enterprises during the economic recession also prove that some strategies mentioned here are not worked.
Kaizen is a good book for you to understand more about the Asia culture especially the Japanese firm culture. If you want to do business with Japanese partner, this book is a must to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of Kaizen and TQC (Total Quality Control), March 20, 2006
This review is from: Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success (Hardcover)
This book is a must-read for process improvement and Quality Assurance professionals. Senior corporate management would also benefit from selections, especially the first chapter and the chapter on problem solving. The book outlines the key fundamentals, principles, requirements, and expectations related to Kaizen (continuous improvement), with a focus on the highest-level cross-functional goals of Quality, Cost, and Schedule (in that order) that ultimately drive profitability. Appendices, including summaries of 5S, old and new seven statistical tools, Deming Prize criteria, and Cannon company case study are as informative as the body of the book. On the down side, there is some significant repitition. Although the book is nearly 20 years old, it is timeless and as relevant as ever.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must when reviewing the worlds postwar economies, November 26, 2009
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This review is from: Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success (Hardcover)
The ingress to the title KAIZEN, "The key to Japan's Competitive Success" speaks for itself. This book is a must for any student, entrepeneur or manager to use as a guide in how to continiously maintain the gradual improvements of the organization and production techniques in a modern market economy. Many companys of today do often falls in to a routine like operations which often leads to crisis and need for radical reorganization which in turn often don't solve the problems. In other words, you allways have to stay competetive otherwise you will be out.
Gerhard Bengtsson
Engineer and Market economist
Consultant/lecturer in Energy sytems
ITE Consulting Kb, Sweden
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Kaizen a swear word?, November 23, 2011
By 
J. S. H. (LAKEWOOD, WA, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success (Hardcover)
Everybody in business and manufacturing should read this. It couldn't hurt. It's dry and to the point but interesting. Total quality control.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple yet Powerful, September 26, 2011
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This review is from: Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success (Hardcover)
I bought for self study about Kaizen, and i would recommend this book for the beginners. Its simple language allows anybody who wants to learn about Kaizen get knowledge quickly.
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Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success
Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success by Masaaki Imai (Hardcover - November 1, 1986)
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