How KAIZEN™ became a crucial part of developing Brand ID in Finland to the next level

“KAIZEN™ is a very powerful way of developing and leading your company. It blooms our business today, and without KAIZEN™ we would not be here where we are today.” That’s a strong statement by Juha Heljakka, Owner and Managing Director of Brand ID, based in Pori, Finland. Brand ID continues to rapidly develop and improve their performance a few years after their KAIZEN™ implementation. In the first article of a trilogy, Juha Heljakka discusses with Robin Cox, Kaizen Institute, Ltd., why no company should hesitate to start with full power, providing insights into how Brand ID’s ongoing KAIZEN™ journey has become a sustainable success.

Company profile:

Brand ID specializes in printing solutions and is the largest manufacturer of industrial markings – such as decals, packaging and branding products – in Scandinavia. The history of the company started in 1967 by producing board games in Finland. Over the years, Brand ID began to specialize in industrial graphics and retail store brand concepts and decided to split from its parent company, Nelostuote. Nowadays, Brand ID has many international customers operating in a wide range of industry sectors. Brand ID Oy was acquired by the management in 2016. In 2018, Brand ID Oy acquired the business of Pirkan Pakkaus Oy and Printcenter Oy, increasing its product portfolio with display and packaging products. In spring 2019, the company’s display and packaging branch changed its name to Brand ID Display & Packaging Oy, and today, Brand ID is a group of four companies that serves customers in all types of branding projects. The company delivers worldwide to 35 different countries.

What was the starting point for your company – and how did you get so engaged in the entire transformation?

We got interested in KAIZEN™ when we heard of its power in managing a whole company, showing a direction with strategy and concrete steps for how to develop, and how to get the entire business to the next level. Especially for the board of directors, it’s very important that they have tools available for how to manage people, actions, processes and the whole business. It has helped us to communicate and understand our targets, and it gives us a language to speak with everybody in the company and in the business. No matter who we are talking to in our company, it really is like we have an agreement on doing things in a simpler way. So, KAIZEN™ is also our language in this company. I really get a lot of positive feedback about the visual system, how we present things with the help of KAIZEN™. It’s like a core in our business today that we show, we present, all things and the communication in such a way that it’s simple and very easy to understand.

“It’s like a core in our business today that we communicate in such a way that it’s simple and very easy to understand.”

The first thing we learned with KAIZEN™ is: don’t hesitate to start with full power. The more we developed with the KAIZEN™ way, the more we understood that we’re not using it as much as we should. We started little by little, then we increased the usage and help of KAIZEN™. Now it’s a crucial part of our business system in all our operations and all our locations.

What aspects of KAIZEN™ are most important for your company?

Companies are typically very good at making strategies but executing a strategy into actions is much more difficult. Especially, how can we lead and manage our company and communicate with our people in such a way that we can say that this is coming from our strategy? When we act, when we are developing processes and trying to get to the next level, we always ask ourselves the following question: What we are doing today, is it really getting us where we are heading with our strategy? It’s very important that we have this string coming from the strategy because it allows us to initiate actions and to look back to where we came from.

It’s important that we have divided our targets into such simple steps that we can follow them on a monthly basis. This way, we can always communicate with our teams and check whether we are hitting the target. Are we on the right course? For example, if we want to sail from Spain to the Caribbean, we use a compass. Then we get winds, water taking us in other directions – so we need to adjust the direction to make sure that we are hitting the right island on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The same happens to business.

KAIZEN™ in the production area

An important principle of KAIZEN™ is to make strategy implementation look very simple: you get the targets from the strategy, you break these down to actions on process level, and then you are constantly measuring what you have, for example, achieved on a daily basis. Are we reaching the right goal with the help of KAIZEN™ on a daily basis with ongoing Continuous Improvement? That leads us to say that KAIZEN™ is our strategy to develop our business and our processes. It’s a methodology for managing the company and the business, it’s a methodology to develop our strategy, it’s a methodology to execute our strategy, and that’s very important. You can see that in the production, in the sales team, in the customer service team, that what we are really doing is coming from our strategy. Is what we are doing in our core? Is it what we really want to do? And that is what KAIZEN™ is all about.

“KAIZEN™ is our strategy to develop our business and our processes. It’s a methodology for managing the entire business and it’s a methodology to execute on our strategy, and that’s very important.”

Interested in reading why Brand ID puts KAIZEN™ first when acquiring a new business? Watch out for the next blog post to be published next week!

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