KAIZEN Glossary

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A tool used to ensure that all important steps or actions in an operation have been taken. One of the Basic Seven Tools of Quality.

Check Points and Control Points

Used to measure the progress of improvement-related activities between managerial levels. Check points represent process-oriented criteria. Control points represent results-oriented criteria. Check points and control points are used in policy deployment.

Check Sheet

A simple data-recording device, custom-made by the user, which allows results to be readily interpreted. Not to be confused with a Checklist (see above).

Common Causes

In statistical quality control, the causes of variation inherent in a process over time.

Company Culture

The informal way life is lived and the work is done, based on the values, beliefs, myths and stories played out in the organization. Over time, leaders shape the culture. (See KAIZEN Culture).

Control Chart

A chart with upper and lower control limits within which a machine or process is "in control". Frequently a centerline, midway between the two limits, helps detect trends toward one or the other. Plotting critical measurements on the chart shows when a machine or process has gone "out of control" and must be adjusted. One of the Basic Seven Tools of Quality.

Core Process

The process in a manufacturing or service organization that produces the goods or services for external customers on which the organization depends for its survival.

Cross-Functional Management

The inter-departmental coordination required to realize the strategic and policy goals of KAIZEN and Total Quality Management. Its critical importance lies in the follow-through to achieve goals and measures.


See Company Culture.

Customer, External

An end-user whom pays for the project or service delivered by a company, thus generating revenue for the company. The goal of world-class companies is to "continually delight" this customer, thus creating "an increasing affection" for its products and services. There may be several external customers, all of whom must be considered by the supplier.

Customer, Internal

The recipient (person, process, or department) of another person's or department's output (product, service or information) within an organization.

Customer-Supplier Partnership

A long-term relationship between a buyer and supplier characterized by teamwork, mutual confidence, and common goals regarding customer satisfaction. The supplier is considered an extension of the buyer's organization, based on several commitments. The buyer provides long-term contracts and uses fewer suppliers. The supplier implements quality assurance processes to limit or eliminate incoming inspection by the buyer. The supplier also helps the buyer reduce costs and improve product and process designs.

Cycle (Lead-Time)

The total time elapsed from when raw material enters the production process until the finished product is ready for shipment to the customer. In service industries, the total time elapsed from when a customer expresses a need to when that need is satisfied.


Bits of information which, when aggregated and analyzed, result in information leading to change and improvement. Data may be quantitative or qualitative. Data are distinguished from individual opinions, past experiences, biases, and "gut feel".

Deming Cycle

Credited by Edward Deming to Walter Steward of Western Electric (who may have gotten it from John Dewey), the cycle is a concept of how thinking must proceed to create continuous improvement. The most common form of the cycle consists of four elements ? Plan, Do, Check, and Act. Dr. Deming has recently re-termed them ? Plan, Do, Investigate, and Adjust (See PDCA).

Eighty-Twenty Rule

Refers to the Pareto principle, which suggests that most effects stem from relatively few causes; that is, eighty percent of the effects come from twenty percent of the causes. (See Pareto Chart.)

Employee Involvement

A practice within an organization whereby employees regularly participate in making decisions on how their work areas operate, including making suggestions for improvements, planning, goal setting and monitoring performance.


A condition in which employees have the authority to make decisions and take action in their work areas without prior approval. For example, an operator can stop a production process if he or she detects a problem, or a customer service representative can send out a replacement if a customer calls with a complaint.

Five S (5S)

Five Japanese words (recently translated into five American words) which refer to systemically cleaning up and maintaining a clean, efficient working environment. A 5S campaign is frequently used to introduce Total Productive Maintenance into a factory.

SEPARATE/SCRAP - get rid of all unused equipment, machinery and parts.

STRAIGHTEN - arrange all needed equipment, tools, so that there is a place for everything and everything is in its place, easy to locate and close to where it is used.

SCRUB - clean up, paint and repair all machinery, aisles, etc.

SPREAD - make cleaning and putting things away routine.

SYSTEMATIZE - standardize the process.

Flexible Manning (Shojinka)

A way of managing person-power on the line such that when demand decreases, workers can be re-deployed to areas where needed, or when demand increases, they can be deployed to areas requiring additional support. Preferred to the system of maximizing machine efficiency, which pays no attention to customer demand and TAKT time.

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