Global KAIZEN™ Conference – Build Back a Better World


The world is experiencing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Worldwide responses have seen remarkable cross-industry collaboration, fast and agile innovation, and a truthful global social conscience. To leverage COVID-19 as a catalyst for positive change and to build back a better world, Kaizen Institute has successfully held a virtual global KAIZEN™ fundraising conference on June 25th with over 1,000 participants from over 70 countries. Donations were addressed to the United Nations COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, an interagency fund mechanism established by the United Nations Secretary-General to help support the most vulnerable countries with their efforts to overcome the health and socioeconomic crisis caused by COVID-19.

Kaizen Institute has the longest history of serving organizations in the field of KAIZEN™

The history of Kaizen Institute began in the mid-80s. We have the longest history of serving organizations around the world in consulting and lean training, specifically in the field of KAIZEN™, Lean management and Continuous Improvement. The KAIZEN™ methodology has been gradually developed over many decades. It was publicly and officially introduced to the world in the 1980s as a systematic methodology through the best-selling book KAIZEN™: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success (published in 1986) by Masaaki Imai, the founder of Kaizen Institute. In 2020, we are re-energizing the Continuous Improvement community as we believe that moments of radical disruption, as this current pandemic has brought, provide unprecedented opportunities to reinvent the future and build back a better, sustainable, and resilient world.

Risa Imai Cox, Managing Director, Kaizen Global Enterprises, opened the virtual conference and welcomed the participants, followed by valuable and inspirational speeches of worldwide KAIZEN™ experts.

The COVID-19 crisis has hit the global economy harshly

The first speaker, economist Ola Grytten, Professor at NHH in Norway and Special Adviser for Norges Bank, provided participants with insights into the macroeconomics of the COVID-19 crisis which has hit the global economy so harshly. With the most current data, figures, and a global outlook, Ola Grytten pointed out the huge impact of the crisis but also explained how we can be optimistic about creating a better future. The economist sees the crisis as a production crisis, or a supply crisis, with the solution being on the supply side. Negative supply shocked the demand expectations of economies as governments shut their economies down with most business unable to operate. Prof. Grytten pointed out that the survivors of the crisis are likely those firms who are able to increase productivity, being proactive in innovation and developing markets, and those who have a strategy of surviving by producing efficiently and producing smartly.

Winning companies are those that apply KAIZEN™

The second presentation by Art Byrne, Retired CEO of The Wiremold Company, addressed KAIZEN™ in a Build Back Better Perspective. Art Byrne has been successfully turning around many companies with KAIZEN™ since the 80s and his KAIZEN™ implementation success story also appeared in the best-selling book by Masaaki Imai, Gemba KAIZEN™: A Commonsense, Low-Cost Approach to Management (published in 1997). Art Byrne provided participants with wisdom about the difference between the traditional approach of managing (through a command-and-control structure), and Lean Management. He elaborated on having a KAIZEN™ strategy and how to organize the implementation of KAIZEN™, which is dependent on developing the key traits of a KAIZEN™ leader (and it is vastly different from traditional management.) Art then explained the step-by-step conversion of two companies to KAIZEN™ with impressive data-driven results. He pointed out that a recession is the best time to make changes as business-as-usual cannot be continued. Winning companies are those that use the opportunities and come out of a recession better then they went into it by applying KAIZEN™.

Art Byrne’s speech was followed by a musical performance by Helene Bøksle, which underlined the message of us being responsible of our own actions.

How to “Build Back Better” with KAIZEN™

The third presentation was held by Bob Emiliani, Professor and Author from Central Connecticut State University, on COVID-19: A Catalyst for Change. Bob emphasized the major preconceptions acting as significant barriers to learning and changing, even in this crisis. While providing valuable information on how the KAIZEN™ methodology can be utilized and embraced better, his experience and in-depth research of KAIZEN™ and Lean leadership allowed participants to better understand these debilitating preconceptions and how to “Build Back Better”. Bob stated that the majority of CEOs ignore KAIZEN™. He challenged those who are responsible and able to change the destiny of a business to decide against being stuck in the status quo as this will allow competitors to surpass them. During this current calamity where changes are urgently required, those who are bound by their preconceptions will be paralyzed by the classical way of management.

Economic recessions are triggers for Change and Continuous Improvement

Euclides Coimbra, Managing Partner, Kaizen Institute Western Europe, who has helped countless of organizations globally to achieve exponential growth with KAIZEN™, spoke about Rebuild, Reimagine, Reinvent: The KAIZEN™ Strategy for Recovery. He provided valuable information about the evolution of KAIZEN™, the definition of KAIZEN™ and how it evolved and became a complete management system that can help companies “Build Back Better” and emerge stronger from this crisis. Economic recessions are triggers for change and Continuous Improvement, combined with innovation and an alternative mindset (by shifting paradigms), will help businesses to emerge from the crisis with a competitive advantage, driven by key breakthrough results. He shared that the KAIZEN™ Business System is able to help companies in a holistic way; not only in their production, supply chain, and service operation, but also in sales and marketing, innovation and development, and in creating agile organizations.

Last but not least, a panel discussion was led by Risa Imai Cox, covering various topics such as the uniqueness of the COVID-19 crisis compared to previous crises, the role of the young (the future leadership generation) in the current crisis and beyond, and the KAIZEN™ strategy and system (KAIZEN™ Business System) for recovery.

A time of great uncertainty requires robust, well-organized leadership to create organizational resilience and confidence. Changes are occurring rapidly and our “new normal” has been developing rapidly all around us. Companies need to respond quickly, effectively and efficiently to adapt to these changes and find new opportunities to secure our future stability and prosperity.

KAIZEN™ principles will guide organizations through tough times

As our founder, Masaaki Imai stated “The starting point for improvement is to recognize the need.” The KAIZEN™ principles will guide your organization through these tough times and your endeavours to rebuild; increasing your organizational inner power and creating new opportunities. It is important to maximize the performance of your organization, be in the driver seat, and use KAIZEN™ so everyone can change for the better, everywhere, every day. You can surface from this once-in-a-lifetime crisis, stronger and healthier.

Watch the recorded version of the conference to learn more about the pandemic’s impact and how businesses can react quickly and decisively during and after this crisis to prepare for a vigorous post-crisis system

Kaizen Institute thanks all presenters and participants for making this a successful event and for contributing to the The United Nations COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.


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