What is the difference between Kaizen and Poka Yoke?

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    • #49
      Mike Wilson

      Kaizen and Poka Yoke both originate from the Toyota Production System, but the former is a philosophy while the latter is considered more of a tool in the Lean toolbox.

      Kaizen: As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, Kaizen is a Japanese word translating to mean continuous improvement. It is a productivity philosophy of constant, incremental improvements anywhere, and any time. Kaizen is an approach adopted by everyone in the organization with the belief that over time, these small changes will lead to major improvements over time.

      Poka Yoke: Also a Japanese term, Poka Yoke translates to mean mistake-proofing. With Poka Yoke, mechanisms are built into processes to reduce the risk of human error. The safety clip on treadmills, washing machines not cycling when the door is open, and leak-proof lids on water bottles are all examples of Poka Yoke we see in our everyday lives. In manufacturing, Poka Yoke is a powerful tool used to prevent error and defects from appearing in the first place.

      With so many important Lean concepts coming from the Toyota Production System, it can be easy to confuse all the different terms: nemawashi, gemba, muda, heijunka, etc. What tools or strategies have you found to be most successful? Share with us below!

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