Operations illustration Operations theory

Continous Improvement

Continuous improvement is arguably one of the most important concepts in Japanese management, and is the main difference between Japanese and Western approaches to business and management. Known in Japan as ‘Kaizen’, continuous improvement is an ‘umbrella concept’ where all aspects of social life, working life and home life are constantly improved.

Western businesses, when attempting to improve efficiency and quality, tend to result in one-off advances; long periods of steady productivity are followed by a sudden rise which, in turn, is followed by long time stability.

Although it can be difficult for workers within business to continuously make improvements, Japanese businesses introduced the Plan, Do, Check, Action (PDCA) cycle. 

• Plan: businesses need to identify where improvement is most needed, gathering data to be used to develop a plan.

• Do: once finalised, the plan must be put into action, more than likely to be carried out by workers.

• Check: checks must be carried out by inspectors in order to see if there has been any improvement. 

• Action: if the plan has been successful, it can then be introduced to all parts of the business.


Supporting Documents

These downloads will help to put operations theory into context using real world examples from real businesses.

Sponsorship as part of the marketing mix
Ford logo

Discover how Ford employed operations theory to thrive in the automotive industry by downloading our premium case study.

Protecting the marketing mix through intellectual property rights
Intellectual Property Office logo

Discover how Intellectual Property Office employed operations theory to prosper in the public sector industry by downloading our premium case study.

Re-branding a Corporate Image
Kellogg's logo

Discover how Kellogg's employed operations theory to thrive in the manufacturing industry by downloading our premium case study.

Innovation in infant nutrition
Cow & Gate logo

Discover how Cow & Gate applied operations theory to thrive in the food & drink industry by downloading our premium case study.

Creating a winning marketing mix
JD Sports logo

Learn how JD Sports employed operations theory to thrive in the retail industry by downloading our premium case study.