The ancient Japanese art of organization and ensuring that things always get better. It doesn’t really have much more meaning than Good Change. Essentially it comes down to ensuring you have constant and continual improvement in your life. And that every aspect of the organization should always be focused on improving it, even if it already works well enough.
The philosophy first appeared shortly after the end of World War II, many Japanese businesses started to embrace an idea that simply repeating themselves and doing things the same way as they had always done was a bad practice and a bad idea. They started to see that when better options were available to ensure they were competitive then they should embrace these changes.
Many historians argue that Kaizen was actually inspired greatly by the western competitors and their evolving manufacturing methods. Kaizen became the word that companies use when looking to streamline their business model, it became the definition of company-wide improvement efforts.
However, it also has a big emphasis on respecting the craft and ensuring that traditions are not broken down completely. Great respect is held for the people, the craft and the complete process that happens for a product to be manufactured. It may seem exhausting to constantly figure out how to do something better in the business world, but if you think about it, it is what ensures you stay ahead of the game.
And in Japan, the culture of Kaizen has become natural. If you are always on the lookout for how to make things better then you will as a company all be on the same page. It is also very important to understand that Kaizen does not mean change just for the sake of change. Changes that bring in no benefit or reward, should not be made because productivity is a very double-edged sword after all. The best productivity system is one that helps you get things done, not one that hinders it.
A very interesting concept that started in Japan, greatly due to the World Wars and the influence of western culture in the region that followed.