While Kaizen and innovation both bring improvements in the company’s products and/or services, processes, and business models, they have big differences, especially in the way they are implemented and the results they are bringing to the company.
As a small business owner, you will always work on different types of improvements in your company. It doesn’t matter if you want to improve your products and services, or process. If you want to stay ahead of your competitors you will always work on improvements. Because of that, it is important to know about the difference between Kaizen and innovation.
But, you have two important roles. The first one is to maintain your current successful operations. In such a way you will be sure that you are on the right way for your small business. The second role that you will have as an entrepreneur or manager is to improve some of the main systems inside your organization.
You can use more than 100 improvement ideas to start working on your business improvements today.
Masaaki Imai, the author of the Kaizen concept differentiates two major management components: maintenance and improvement.
Maintenance requires activities as maintaining current operations of the company as technological, managerial, and operational standards. On the other hand, improvement can be broken down into Kaizen and innovation. It is logical because both concepts will lead to different improvements. Innovation is something totally new, while improvement is something existing that will give better results.
What is the difference between Kaizen and innovation?
Here are some of the biggest differences between these two concepts:
1. Small improvements VS Dramatic improvements
Kaizen is focused on small improvements as a result of ongoing efforts of the company’s staff members. On the other hand, innovation is focused on large, dramatic improvements as a result of big changes in technology and equipment.
2. Small steps VS Big steps
Kaizen, as an improvement concept is implemented through small steps that will improve current work of any part of the company. It will not require complex tools, but sometimes simple observations to discover simple problems that will need a solution as an improvement effort. Innovation, on the other side, is not something that you can implement in one day with several simple steps. Innovation will require projects that sometimes will last several months to several years.
3.Continuous improvements VS Periodic improvements
Because of possibilities for enemy small steps toward improvements, Kaizen is a continuous never-ending approach. On the other side, innovation is periodic, something that you will implement from time to time.
4. Incremental improvements VS non-incremental improvements
Another difference between these concepts is the results they bring to the company. Kaizen is focusing on small improvements with small incremental results. For example, one Kaizen result in improvements of the delivery time can be 4 days instead of 5 days before process improvement. On the other side, the focus of innovation is to bring non-incremental, radical results.
For the same example about the delivery time, innovation will rebuild all processes included in delivery in order to reduce delivery time on only one day.
5. Little or no investments VS large investments
Kaizen in many cases will not require big investments in new technology and processes. It will use current resources to improve them. For example, Kaizen concept will require improvements on the current technologies and processes. Contrary, innovation will require larger investments in time, money, and efforts. It will remove current processes and build totally new one, or will invest in totally new technology and so on.
6.Improvements VS Rebuilding
This difference is closely related to previous one. Kaizen is focusing to improve current things in the company as products and services, processes, technology and business models. Innovation, on the other side, will turn away these things and rebuild totally new, nonexistent things until now.
7. Higher efforts VS little efforts
Maintaining continuous improvements in the company will require greater efforts than implementing periodic innovation projects. This is another difference between Kaizen and innovation.