Is Kaizen Enough?

Kaizen. Japanese for “improvement” is the word behind Toyota’s Total Quality obsession, although nowadays it has suffered in it’s quest to be the number one automaker.

Kaizen origin however goes back to the legacy of a very smart American, Edwards Deming, the father of Total Quality, and the Deming’s Cycle. His ideas went beyond Japan to affect our expectations of products and services. Arguably he led Japan to dominate the auto industry, and get great influence on electronics and robotics. However in the software and mobile sectors Japan has always lagged behind. Why?

Newsweek did a very good analysis on this phenomenon. And the conclusion seems to be that to go beyond Kaizen, you need real innovation, and to achieve that only revolutionary products will do - think Apple iPhone - not just continuos improvement but totally new ideas to fill undiscovered customer needs, or just amaze the consumer. Usually these are ideas that create markets, or radically change the way things work.