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Kaizen Front Cover

Kaizen Desk Reference Standard
by Raphael L. Vitalo, Ph.D., Frank Butz, and Joseph P. Vitalo



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"The authors have performed a great service to those wishing to make improvements in their workplace..."
Reviewer James P. Wallace, Regional Director, Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center

The authors have performed a great service to those wishing to make improvements in their workplace by eliminating waste and improving efficiency. The Kaizen Desk Reference Standard provides much needed detailed information about the process and the approach to make those necessary improvements.

This reference for conducting a Kaizen event is full of very useful worksheets that structure the event. A detailed example of a simulated project is thoroughly documented providing completed worksheets demonstrating their use. Of particular interest, the text provides tips that are generously scattered throughout to help those with little experience to prepare for handling the road blocks that often occur in implementing change strategies. There are many forms that provide structure in conducting meetings, brainstorming sessions, documenting improvements, tracking changes, and taking corrective actions. As a bonus, the accompanying CD provides the templates of these forms either in PDF, M/S Word, or M/S Excel format. These useful templates are very well structured and apply to many improvement tasks attempted in the development of a high-performing organization.

Many of the resource tools demonstrated in the text apply to those trying to implement LEAN in manufacturing applications for the first time and serve to help structure a strategy for doing so. The step-by-step process demonstrated in the text combines many of the organizational and team leadership strategies to identify sources of wastes, develop process flow charts, handle team dynamics, developing consensus, identifying root causes, and documenting gains. Also, the text stresses the need for standardization of processes and the commitment of management in the process of change. Standardization requires accountability and responsible leadership in which there may be reluctance to adopt.

This text is a must read primer for anyone attempting to lead a Kaizen event or attempting to make changes within their workplace to foster the development of a high-performing organization. The step-by-step approach demonstrates a strategy that should yield greater success on the first attempt. Anyone involved in recommending change, should keep a copy of this text on their desk. It is easy to read, if full of examples, and is accompanied with a very useful selection of forms available to use for process improvements.

I would like to extend my thanks for a job well done.


"This is the most comprehensive treatment of Kaizen that I have ever seen."
Reviewer Chris Bujak, Global Manager, Continuous Improvement, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.

Nice job! This is the most comprehensive treatment of Kaizen that I have ever seen. You are to be congratulated for a professionally executed and thorough treatment of performing Kaizen. The book not only captures the technical aspects of Kaizen but also accomplishes it in the true spirit of helping people "do" this thing called Kaizen and, in the process, improve themselves and their environments.

I give the book my highest marks for thoroughness, step-by-step logic, having a "doing" focus with examples, combining technical content with addressing the issues of people and their growth, and offering an invitation to a broader community to try Kaizen. I especially found the narrative description of an actual Kaizen, from conception through follow up, immensely helpful. And the tool kit included with the book is outstanding.

My only add is to emphasize the importance of a high level analysis of the business to determine the positioning of Kaizen from a strategic perspective. Guidance is provided for this approach in the "Customizing Kaizen" chapter. If you want to reap broad business benefits from Kaizen, you need to go to that chapter and study carefully the sections on Guidelines for the Sustained Use of Kaizen and Building the High-Performing Organization.



"This book is one impressive source for learning and applying the concepts of Kaizen to any business model and on any scale."
Reviewer James S. Byron, Manager, Learning and Organizational Development, PGM Groton, Pfizer Inc.

The Kaizen Desk Reference Standard is a continuous improvement encyclopedia of procedures, steps, tools, and principles that genuinely work to produce proven and amazing business and personal results. Much is written in the popular business improvement literature about the importance of execution, waste elimination, human capital development, high-performance work systems, building to last, etc., but most of these works fail to boil down in a systematic and teachable way how to make these concepts come to life. This book is one impressive source for learning and applying the concepts of Kaizen to any business model and on any scale.

The KDRS has an adaptable two-track approach. First, serious-minded continual improvement achievers have at their disposal a teaching tool that provides the concepts, principles, and operations for acquiring and applying Kaizen. Second, the KDRS is a ready reference for guiding every business leader through the steps needed to successfully apply Kaizen to their business.

This book fills a glaring hole in the Kaizen marketplace by providing a documented and systematic knowledge base of tools and methods to apply Kaizen repeatedly and consistently. The KDRS is organized and referenced for ease of use. It begins by educating the reader about the knowledge underpinning Kaizen; it then methodically takes the reader through the lifecycle of a Kaizen event. At every step along the way, tips and checklists prompt and stimulate the reader to ensure knowledge acquisition and execution.

Most importantly, this practical guide recognizes that, apart from elevating business results, the critical outcome for Kaizen is boosting the energy, initiative, passion, and alignment of that key determinant of sustained high performance—namely, the people of the enterprise. In fact, the authors point out that no improvement tool will realize its potential contribution without the engagement and alignment of the people of the enterprise. It is the quality of these people who make the dream of sustained high performance a reality. Few consultants and business leaders truly realize this simple but profound insight. The KDRS authors do, and while they are passionate about their "tool," they are uniquely honest in the requirements needed to get the benefits of this process. This book is a "must have" for every business leader serious about building high performance.


"...a book worth having and keeping."

Reviewer Michel Baud in, Manufacturing Management & Technology Institute

I like the book. It is professionally produced, the material in it is easy to locate, and it contains a wealth of useful details. I particularly appreciate the CD with electronic copies of the forms. The book is clearly a distillation of the authors' personal experience, and not a rehash of other publications. The book is entirely about the Kaizen event process and its management, as opposed to the content of the changes that are made to operations, which is what I have been writing about. I don't agree with everything in the book, which is not unexpected. There are two points in particular that I would like to share. "Kaizen" and "Kaizen event" are not synonymous. In Japan, Kaizen designates small changes in work methods implemented by the people who do the work themselves. An example of Kaizen from NUMMI is wrapping tin foil around the feet of welding fixtures to make them easier to clean, and it was implemented by a "problem-solving team" that meets twice a week for one hour after work in a pattern similar to quality circles. That is continuous improvement; Kaizen events are not. The term "Kaizen event" or "Kaizen blitz" itself is an oxymoron made in the USA. I don't mind it and I do coach Kaizen events, but I think the distinction between Kaizen and Kaizen events should be made. Also, I do not view Kaizen events as the be-all and end-all of manufacturing improvement and waste elimination, but as one tool in a kit that also includes the above problem-solving teams as well as engineering and management task forces to undertake large scale projects, and culture change programs involving all employees, such as 5S. All that said, this is a book worth having and keeping.


"This book is one impressive source for learning and applying the concepts of Kaizen to any business model and on any scale."
Reviewer Don Roll, WOVC and Kaizen Tool Expert

Absolutely superb reference for performing a Kaizen event from start to finish. This book takes over where other Kaizen volumes leave off. Most other Kaizen books deal generally with Kaizen philosophy, benefits, and usually not at all about the detailed methodology of Kaizen. This Kaizen reference is like having a detailed road map for Kaizen. My Kaizen events have been much more consistent, since I started following the methodology as described in this volume. Additionally, our Kaizen teams are rewarded with more successful events from a team building as well as a financial standpoint. This book has been so helpful to me that now all of my Kaizen facilitators are trained according to the method described in this Kaizen Desk Reference Standard. I truly wish I had this reference 10 years ago when we struggled to put the Kaizen concepts into practice.