Abstract of the book

VivlioIn the 1980's management techniques focusing on employee empowerment, teamwork approach and both-ways communication were not new but Japanese firms seemed to implement such techniques much more effectively than Western companies did. Overall they demonstrated a greater commitment to the philosophy of continuous improvement giving on that philosophy the name Kaizen.  Kaizen became famous when a lot of Japanese companies used it to rise to world leadership during the last decades and was that technique that contributed the most to that success. Kaizen was considered as a concept-umbrella, and was based mainly on the Japanese guru M.Imai's work, covering most of those unique methodologies and practices applied in Japanese companies which are now wide-developed practices elsewhere. Just to mention some: Total Quality Management, Innovation, Team-works, Small group activities, Cross-Functional Management,  Employees-Empowerment, Bottom-Up activities, 5"S",  7-Deadly Wastes, that will also be  analyzed in this book. Kaizen, as a strategy umbrella but also as a bundle of practices and tools, typically improves all of the three major business drivers namely, quality, cost and delivery by eliminating non value added tasks and it also improves process documentation. It is an on going improvement involving every one and including both managers and simple workers as well. So an objective of this book is to define and to exploit  Kaizen, its practices and tools, through extensive literature survey. To define its critical success factors and to give guidelines for its successful implementation.

One of the practices-tools included in the Kaizen concept umbrella and widely used, is the suggestions or proposals management system. This system based also on the philosophy of continuous improvement, is simple in perception, easy in use and can be either group or individual oriented. Through organized suggestions-proposals systems it is generated a great number of suggestions for implementation, so is activated a mechanism to make employees think of continuous improvements in their workplace. This, so called "bottom-up participation", gives emphasis on teamwork, on process, the upper management commitment  considered to be the key important parameter. In this way employees' proposals once implemented lead to a revised standard for the organization and so they play a vital role in the company's development and perspective.

Another objective of this book, taking different approaches from the literature of Kaizen into account, is to develop and  propose a "suggestions system-tool" for implementation. This tool will be implemented and tested in organization "XYZ", a medium sized manufacturing company in Greece as another vehicle on "XYZ"'s journey towards becoming a Total Quality Company. This system is an "ideas management system'', and has the code IDEmas.

This model is based on standardization and measurement correlated with P-D-C-A Deming cycle. Quality, Cost and Delivery should be the expected results of IDEmas implementation, being its ultimate goals. The so called "Process oriented criteria" (P-criteria), and "Results oriented criteria" (R-criteria) explained in the literature survey will be used for evaluating IDEmas' activities.

For some others important "human-ware" parameters such as i.e. team formation, employees' satisfaction of working as a team members, morale, discipline and their encouragement, a questionnaire has been built and elaborated  to deal with company XYZ's employees perception on those issues. Finally, the company's process towards continuous improvement will be evaluated, via an elaborated tool, known as  the Continuous Quality Improvement  Barometer ("CQI BAROMETER").

This study, through this model implementation, does give directions but however do not tell which is the best road the organization "XYZ" to take possibly for two reasons:

  1. one reason  is that needs time to be tested the proposed system and
  2. a second reason that the management has to follow the so called  PDCA Deming cycle to check, compare and correct the process of the IDEmas on prescribed points and against expected results.
The first prescribed point is after a 6 month implementation. Instead, this study provides the organization "XYZ" as an example, different approaches and creates an environment to nurture any kind of quality practices, and also an environment to adopt and adapt changes.

The study  then  proposes  modifications on the model in relation to  time frame  and  finally encourages organization "XYZ"  to adhere  to this tool  because it is expected to be a  low cost approach process model with guaranteed results.A few recommendations will be presented in ensuring the successful application  of the model in that company and will be tried to generalize, if possible,  its application elsewhere. It will be stated that this model represents  one of  the routes  to take the specific  company "XYZ", and  provides the organization  with an understanding of different alternatives that it can adopt to reach the various destinations  concerning  total quality.


1. Imai,M., ''Kaizen :The key to Japan's  competitive success ", 1986, McGraw Hill, USA.

2. Barnes ,T.,''Kaizen strategies for successful leadership'',1996, Pitman Publishing Lοndon.
3. Imai ,M., " Gemba kaizen a common sense, low cost approach to management ", 1997

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