Did you know there is no one singular person credited with the development of Kaizen? Instead Kaizen, its principles and related strategies have been developed and reworked for nearly a century. A key character includes Walter A. Shewart who developed Statistical Process Control as well as management concepts with the idea of improvement. Another influencer in Kaizen was W. Edwards Deming who went to Japan after World War II to study production problems.
Deming and Japanese business managers worked together to increase productivity in facilities and improve the quality of products. The four step cycle called the Deming Circle emerged in the early 1950s and was soon reworked by the Japanese into the Plan > Do > Check > Act (PDCA) Cycle. Toyota was able to use the teachings of Deming and Japanese managers to harness Kaizen and implement it in their own work. A Japanese theorist and management consultant, Masaaki Imai, studied the Toyota Production System and was the first to introduce the idea of Kaizen to both North America and Europe.
So, who do you think had more of an impact on Kaizen? Shewart and his Statistical Process Control? Deming’s and his development of the Deming Wheel? The introduction of the PDCA cycle from Japan? Masaaki Imai for founding the Kaizen Institute? Let us know in the discussion!