In a rapidly changing world, businesses will need to embrace change so as to remain competitive Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Operations Manager Mr. Dalmas Okendo has said.
He made these remarks during the 2 Day KAM Kaizen Conference themed “Product Excellence through Employee Excellence” that culminated yesterday in Nairobi. Mr. Okendo urged companies that have not embraced the KAIZEN Concept to do so as it is one of the ways through which companies can work towards elimination of waste, reduction of costs of production and ultimately enhance the competitiveness of Kenyan firms.
KAM KAIZEN Event 2015 was the eleventh of what has become a hugely successful annual event. KAIZEN is all about embracing continuous improvement. Over the years a number of companies have developed interest in understanding these Japanese approach to production.
Companies that have embraced the KAIZEN principles have experienced among other things: Increased productivity through elimination of needless movements within the plant, Improved cash flow through application of Just-in-Time manufacturing which eliminates needless inventory and stock, Improved performance of machines through application of autonomous maintenance and Better deployment of policy among all staff.
Giving the keynote address, Bitange Ndemo, Professor at the Business School University of Nairobi reiterated that change is an everyday phenomenon which needs to be embraced since new innovations and technology come to make things easier and more efficient. “To remain relevant you must continuously improve the product that you are making. If you are not part of the change you will become irrelevant. Culture keeps changing we cannot remain with the old methods of doing things and expect new results. You must embrace continuous improvement, embrace change and that is what Kaizen is all about,” he said.
Internal processes can only be improved through learning and growing your employees thus, the importance of training employees was underscored. “Let your employees have multi-skills. You will need the people to move the organization forward therefore people must be developed,” said Prof. Bitange.
Multi stakeholder collaboration was also underlined as key to production excellence. According to Prof. Bitange, stakeholder relationship should be defined by cooptation and not competition. “Labour union and management should use transparent presentation of productivity and revenue data in negotiations. This allows for both sides to adjust accordingly in terms of managing their obligations and rights. Labour strikes which disrupt production can be avoided,” he said.
The conference featured case study presentations by some of the leading Kaizen practicing companies like Kariki Farms, Synresins, Associated Battery Manufacturers, Coninx, Ubbink and Transcorp Hilton. The session provided for peer learning and sharing on best practise. The need to have an open mind towards change, awareness creation and training, involvement of everyone in the company to own the process were highlighted as some of the key success factors in the implementation of Kaizen.
Day two of the conference featured a training session on empowering employees through Workplace Visuality. The visual work place is not about posters and signs but rather the language of lean production made visual. The purpose of the visual approach is to identify and eliminate deficits in information through visual solutions covering all work venues and intentional environments. A visual workplace is a self-ordering, self-explaining, self-regulating and self-improving work environment where what is supposed to happen happens on time, every tie, because of visual devices.
Kaizen is an everyday, everybody and everywhere improvement. From small incremental improvements to dramatic and strategic improvements. “Leadership in the Kaizen process must be demonstrated from the top therefore top level management commitment will be key to the success of this process. Leaders must lead by example and employees included in the mainstream of the journey of any company for it to succeed,” said Mr. Okendo.