Kaizen eno Yon Dankai

The Economic and Scientific Section (ESS) group was given the  task with improving Japanese management skills and Lowell Mellen was invited to Japan to properly install the Training Within Industry (TWI) programs in 1951.

In 1951, even before the arrival of Mellen, the ESS group had a training film to introduce the three TWI “J” programs (Job Instruction, Job Methods and Job Relations)—the film was titled “Improvement in 4 Steps” (Kaizen eno Yon Dankai).

While the concept of Kaizen may have been birthed out of the Post-War rebuilding efforts, the shifting definition of the word Kaizen from its original “Continual Improvement” to embody a complete business philosophy can be traced back to the 1980’s and the adoption of Kaizen management philosophy by one of Japan’s dominant industry leaders: Toyota.

Toyota helped to redefine the concept of Kaizen by connecting it with the Shewhart Cycle (PDCA). This translates to “Plan -> Do -> Check -> Act” and is the governing feedback loop for the Kaizen model.

Toyota also helped establish Kaizen as a daily process, and core to the guiding principles of leadership, management and employee operations, goal setting and decision making. Kaizen lives at all levels within an organization; from the CEO all the way down to the janitor.