While Kaizen and innovation both bring improvements in the company’s products and/or services, processes, and business models, they have big differences especially in the way they are implemented and the results they are bringing for the company.
Masaaki Imai, the author of the Kaizen concept differentiates two major management components: maintenance and improvement.
Maintenance requires activities as maintaining current operations of the company as technological, managerial, and operational standards. On the other hand,improvement can be broken down between Kaizen and innovation. It is logical because both concepts will lead to different improvements.
Here are some of the biggest differences between these two concepts:
Kaizen’s small improvements vs innovation’s dramatic improvements. Kaizen is focused on small improvements as a result of ongoing efforts of the company’s staff members. On the other hand, innovation is focusing on large, dramatic improvements as a result of big changes in technology and equipment.
Kaizen’s small steps vs innovation’s big steps. Kaizen as an improvement concept is implemented through small steps that will improve current work of some part of the company. It will not require complex tools, but sometimes simple observations to discover simple problems that will need a solution as an improvement effort. Innovation, on the other side is not something that can be implemented in one day with several simple steps. Innovation will require projects that sometimes will last several months to several years.
Kaizen’s continuous improvements vs innovation’s periodic improvements. Because of possibilities to enemy small steps toward improvements, Kaizen is continuous never ending approach. On the other side, innovation is periodic, something that will be implemented from time to time.
Kaizen’s incremental improvements vs innovation’s non-incremental improvements. Another difference between these concepts is the results they bring to the company. Kaizen is focusing on small improvements with small incremental results. For example, one Kaizen result for improvements of the delivery time can be four instead of 5 days. On the other side innovation is focusing to bring non-incremental, radical results. For the same example about delivery time, innovation will rebuild all processes included in delivery in order to reduce delivery time on one day.
Kaizen’s improvements vs innovation’s rebuilding. This difference is closely related with previous one. Kaizen is focusing on the improvements of current things in the company as products and services, processes, technology and business models. Innovation, on the other side will turn away these things and rebuild totally new, nonexistent until now.
Kaizen’s great efforts vs innovation’s little efforts. Maintaining continuous improvements in the company will require great efforts than implementing periodic innovation projects. This is another difference between Kaizen and innovation.
Thank you for your attention,