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.

Innovation in infant nutrition
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Discover how Cow & Gate used operations theory to prosper in the food & drink industry by downloading our premium case study.

Protecting the marketing mix through intellectual property rights
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Learn how Intellectual Property Office employed operations theory to thrive in the public sector industry by downloading our premium case study.

Meeting customers' needs in growth markets - online gaming
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Discover how BT employed operations theory to prosper in the telecommunications industry by downloading our premium case study.

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Learn how Parcelforce Worldwide used operations theory to prosper in the logistics industry by downloading our premium case study.

Sponsorship as part of the marketing mix
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Learn how Ford employed operations theory to prosper in the automotive industry by downloading our premium case study.