KAIZEN™ Insight Healthcare Tour


During the week of February 26th, Kaizen Institute led a KAIZEN™ Insight Healthcare Tour across Japan, visiting organizations in the central part of Japan, in both Aichi and Gifu Prefectures.

The Tour included both strategic and tactic elements of KAIZEN™ in Healthcare via Gemba Walks, interactive discussions and workshops with Healthcare executives and experts along with the opportunity to learn directly from those who lead the KAIZEN™ movement in the Healthcare sector within Japan.

The KAIZEN™ Insight Healthcare Tour was led by Carsten Otto (Kaizen Institute Global Operations), Emanuel Govetto (Kaizen Institute Italy), our guest facilitator Mark Graban (Author of the books “Lean Hospitals”, “Healthcare KAIZEN™” and “The Executive Guide to Healthcare KAIZEN™”).

People from 7 different countries participated and had exceptional access and insights to Lean Healthcare methodologies, based on the Toyota Production System (TPS) principles and KAIZEN™ culture.

The group visited several leading hospitals in Japan as well as TOYOTA, to learn from their TPS application into Healthcare, and some other manufacturing sites. The participants also heard various lecturers from those who have been engaged in continuous improvement for years, to include an executive from a service company. The group was exposed to diverse environments and implementation stages of continuous improvement, learning many different, but yet similar perspectives from top management, supervisors, team leaders and staff level members, KAIZEN™ promotional personnel, TPS specialist, and others.

Participants also experienced the Japanese culture where KAIZEN™ was originated from, and continuously sought out ways to work better to establish a KAIZEN™ culture within their respective organizations.

While leaning the history and culture of the country, the group also had opportunities to walk in a Japanese garden, visit a Samurai museum, and dine on tatami floor in a traditional setting with key insights into the Japanese culture.

The highlight of the week included Kaizen Institute showing our appreciation to Dr. Masaya Saito for his tireless long-time contribution to the development of the KAIZEN™ practices in the medical field.  Dr. Saito was the recipient of the Quality Management Promotion Achievement Award in 2017 by the Japanese Society for Quality Control.  Our humble message to Dr. Saito stated, ‘In appreciation for your supporting and spreading KAIZEN™ to raise the quality of the Healthcare worldwide. Your contribution had encouraged and affected many who would continuously improve how to increase the level in medical and other services around the globe to make the world a safer, healthier and better place, thank you!’ It has been our honor to work such devoted leader to create the improving workplace that contributes to its people and to the world!’ He not only helps the workplace domestically, but also contributes to the others from overseas by helping their hospitals or respective organizations by transferring his knowledge and passion. 

Shortly before our visit to his hospital, the newspaper (see article at the top) introduced the story about how a physical therapist from Dr. Saito’s hospital group helped a patient who had limited mobility. The patient loves to read newspapers but couldn’t do so due to his condition caused by an accident. The accident put him in the hospital for six months. The hospital has been promoting many improvement initiatives to include ‘Small KAIZEN™ Contest’. The desire of the therapist to help the patient invented a simple solution for the patient to be able to read the newspaper without any assistance, and even after he went back home, this solution helped those who attend the injured family member. This idea was awarded at the annual convention of the group. Dr. Saito has been working on the improvement journey for many years and this is one example of how the hospital is now developing the proactive improvement culture on its own. During our visit, the group learnt how the hospital has been managed and how its CI efforts have been supported by the devoting committee, as well as learning and observing the improvement cases. The therapist’s desire to help the patients has been created under the strong leadership and tireless effort of those who had promoted the continuous improvement. We also learnt that the committee even worked on an improvement project when they noticed the morale of the staff toward improvement became lower in the past, and they successfully turned it around based on the KAIZEN™ implementation.  

We trust the KAIZEN™ Insight Tour experience gave all participants the insight of what KAIZEN™ Institute calls authentic KAIZEN™ and enabled participants to learn how to successfully create a KAIZEN™ culture and environment in a medical facility to develop waste-free operations, while increasing the care of patients and motivation of the staff.


Kaizen Institute Consulting Group, Ltd.

HQ Global Operations – Zug, Switzerland


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