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Efficiency the Japanese Way

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Thanks to some recent reforms, it’s much less complex to die in Maine. The average time required to issue death certificates is down from over three months to just five days. These dramatic improvements in local governments come from process improvement approach called “kaizen”, which originated in Japan.

According to Fox News, many states are cracking down on inefficient bureaucracies using “kaizen.” Translated from a Japanese word meaning “continuous improvement,” correspondent Julie Carr Smyth describes the system as:

“A way of thinking that puts workers at the center, gives them a sense of the total process they’re involved in, and then frees them to think of ways to best do their jobs.”

Kaizen is spreading like a bestselling novel. Only two states reported pursuing the approach in 2005, but by 2010 more than 29 agencies nationwide have either participated in or planned a process improvement session based on kaizen. Iowa, for example, drastically enhanced a permitting process from an average of a painful 187 days down to a reasonable 30 days. Ohio has eliminated nearly half of all of one class of hearings and sped up identification of benefit overpayments. These changes save the buckeye state $220,000 a year and are credited for a $33 million increase in collections.


© Flickr user TMAB2003

Old processes may be familiar, but they often slow down production, decrease stakeholder creativity and engagement and result in a stagnant workflow. Organizations must embrace innovation as continuous improvement. Using approaches like kaizen, AccelaWork believes that through a combination of observation, feedback and the free flow of ideas, stakeholders are able to make remarkable improvements to their own workload and the workflow of their company. Real change and real process improvement is possible.

Employee contributions can help build an environment of confidence, teamwork, open communication and mutual accountability. Contact the process improvement experts today if your organization is seeking to renew old processes or reinvent the way you operate.

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