Learn more why Brand ID in Finland puts KAIZEN™ first when acquiring a new business

“For us, KAIZEN™ plays a very important role when we are making acquisitions and looking for businesses that have the potential to support our growth strategy”, summarizes Juha Heljakka, Owner and Managing Director of Brand ID, based in Pori/Finland. This way, Brand ID has found a new common language that brings their entire business forward. After the first article of this trilogy, when Juha Heljakka gave insights into the start of Brand ID’s transformation, he now discusses with Robin Cox, Kaizen Institute, Ltd., how KAIZEN™ has become the main factor of cultural change.

Brand ID’s KAIZEN™ principles

1 I create value for customers

I know who my customer is and what kind of value my customer expects. I am responsible for the customer.

2 I eliminate waste from the value chain

I am able to create more value for the customer when I improve the process by identifying and eliminating non-value-adding activities.

3 I know where the value for the customer is created

I improve operations by focusing on the Gemba – the place where value is created. By changing Gemba, I can influence the value in the chain.

4 I contribute to improvement

I have an opportunity and obligation to improve every day.

5 I comply with the agreed procedures and react quickly to deviations

My actions are based on agreed best standards. Deviations from agreed procedures require immediate corrective action. I am responsible to react.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in your business and way of working?

Beyond the strengths that I see in strategy implementation, KAIZEN™ has become so powerful that it is also a key part of our way to achieve growth. For us, KAIZEN™ plays a very important role when we are making acquisitions and looking for businesses that have the potential to support the growth strategy we have at the moment. We have experienced that by implementing our system of managing, we can realize the potential of the new company very fast – much faster than we would normally do. So, right from the start, we put KAIZEN™ in place in a new organization as we did some months ago. And the feedback from the company that we acquired, was tremendously positive. The directors say that now we have a very straight and simple direction, we know what to do, we have tools to lead and to communicate and we already see very positive results after a very short period of time. With the new company, we started by establishing KCM – measured by the KAIZEN™ Change Model percentage. This provides us with a score that shows how much of the expected change capabilities we already have in place. We gave ourselves a target where we want to stand at the end of the year, for example. It shows me: We get figures, we get targets, and we get results.

What is the most beneficial thing that you have learned about KAIZEN™?

For me, the biggest value in KAIZEN™ is that it helps me develop, manage and lead the company, and to communicate with people. It’s like we have a new language in our company. I asked my board of directors after we started doing KAIZEN™ how they liked it. None of them would like to go back to the previous system that we used, or the previous way we used to work. It’s a principle. It’s not giving you the content for your business, but it gives you the tools. I compare it with building a house: You may have the wrong tools – but with KAIZEN™ you get exactly the right toolset to build your house. This aspect is very crucial.

KAIZEN™ in the production area

KAIZEN™ in the production area

What cultural changes have you observed in your company?

We all have heard that culture eats strategy for breakfast. Concerning culture, I would like to give you an example. When you have a good way of doing the strategy with the directors and with your organization overall, this influences culture. You start to speak the same language, you start to think the same way. What KAIZEN™ has brought to us is a new way of thinking. That is one of the most important results that KAIZEN™ triggers people start to think in a different way. They see the results of their actions, and they have instruments to reflect on them: What are our targets, what is our mission, what is our vision, why we do this? It starts by asking different questions, and then the culture follows.

We started by doing workshops. It’s very important that everybody attends these workshops. It’s not only top management, it’s not only a certain team. KAIZEN™ is a very nice way to get everyone together to work on the targets and the job that we need to get done together.

If I would give a score to KAIZEN™, I would estimate that 30 percent is about the tools and establishing a standard way of doing and managing the company, with meetings and so on. Another 30 percent is about the visual elements that we can show and use to communicate with people. And the remaining part is about culture. In total, KAIZEN™ is more on the people side than on the tool side. This touches the culture in a very positive way.

“We learned that our people started to change culture because they think differently. They see the results of their actions and reflect on them – What are our targets? And why do we do specific things?”

Interested in reading how Brand ID became a leader in their field of printing solutions by starting KAIZEN™ from sales and top management? Watch out for the next blog post to be published next week!

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