18. Oct. 2014

Japan October 2014 Part 1

by Danie Vermeulen

A morning with Masaaki Imai

We made the most of the public holiday on our first day in Tokyo to explore the vast city and some of its amazing sites. Tokyo is home to more than nine million people and the city is always busy. Yet, it still feels organised, orderly and under control. Our Tokyo Metro app made it surprisingly easy to get around most of the places on our to-see list within the day.

 

The next morning we joined up with Pierluigi Tosato for a two-day mini study tour.  Pierluigi is CEO at Acqua Minerale San Benedetto, one of our Kaizen Institute Italy clients.

We were fortunate to schedule a morning session with our Kaizen Institute founder, Masaaki Imai before his month-long trip to participate in client events in Europe and South America. We were again inspired by Mr Imai’s wisdom, humour, wit and insights as he explained the differences between traditional and Lean mind-sets in organisations.

Mr Imai stressed that staff members of Lean organisations are treated and developed as assets where traditional organisations typically view and treat their staff as a cost item. Shorter-term financial success drivers go against Lean organisations’ focus on value-add for customers, long-term strategy deployment and measuring success in the gemba. Mr Imai also reminded us that quality should be built in as part of the process. The simple standard that should apply to every process and person is “don’t accept, don’t make and don’t send” when quality is unacceptable.

Mr Imai is 84 year young this year. His energy and genuine passion for KAIZEN™ is truly inspirational and infectious and he is always willing to share his time and insights. After we said good-bye to Mr Imai, Pierluigi summed up our collective appreciation and admiration for Mr Imai when he said, “I want to be like that when I’m 84.”

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