Kaizen Institute

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Kaizen Institute
IndustryManagement consulting
Founded1985; 38 years ago (1985) in Baar, Switzerland
FounderMasaaki Imai

Kaizen Institute is a management consulting firm headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, that is grounded and specialized in applying kaizen methodology to improve the workplace and productivity, among other things.[1]



Kaizen Institute was established in 1985 in Baar, Switzerland by Masaaki Imai.[2]

The founding of Kaizen Institute accompanied the response to Imai’s first book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success (published in 1986 by McGraw-Hill) which helped to popularize the practice of kaizen in Western organizations.[3][4]

Early History

In 1988, Kaizen Institute conducted the first comprehensive workshop on kaizen and the Toyota Production System in the United States.[5] The firm subsequently registered as Kaizen Institute America to conduct business from California.[1] The same year, Kaizen Institute New Zealand was formed and registered in Auckland, marking the beginning of Kaizen Institute’s intercontinental expansion. Offices quickly emerged across Europe, including London, Paris, and Frankfurt with numerous countries being supported by the time Kaizen Institute celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2005.[1]

Recent History

Kaizen Institute moved its Swiss offices to Zug, where its global operations hub was launched in 2003. A management system was conceived in 2006 as part of a collaborative project amongst Kaizen Institute’s teams to support the global expansion of the firm.

By 2014, as it was nearing its 30th anniversary, Kaizen Institute officially established business units across Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa. Their global outreach was supplemented by the restructuring of their Global Support Units (GSU) that year into four separate divisions: Quality Assurance, Business Development, Corporate Administration and Brand Managemen.[1]

Merger with Gemba Research

In 2011, Kaizen Institute combined its global operations with Gemba Research, another global Continuous Improvement consulting and training firm.[6] As a new entity, KICG (Kaizen Institute Consulting Group) expanded its reach into Asia and strengthened its operational teams in North America and Europe following the merger.[1]



Kaizen Institute is structured as a network of licensees. The licensor is Kaizen Institute AG (KIAG) of Zug, Switzerland. KIAG is responsible for headquarter functions through its Global Support Units and is responsible for all Kaizen Institute’s licensing and support operations. Previously, KICG (Kaizen Institute Consulting Group) was responsible for these functions before KICG was merged into Kaizen Institute, Ltd. in 2019. There are currently more than 40 independent licensees who are responsible for operating Kaizen Institutes across more than 60 territories.

In 2018, Kaizen Institute established Kaizen Global Enterprises (KGED) in Dubai, UAE.[1]


Kaizen Institute’s organizational culture incorporates kaizen methodology, based on five KAIZEN™ foundational principles,[7] enabling the organization to be a practical example of the effective implementation of the kaizen approach in all departments of a corporation. Different business units apply these principles to their practical benefit such as in New Zealand where standing desks were adopted to improve productivity and ergonomics.[8]

Kaizen culture transpires in the events held by Kaizen Institute business units, which usually pertain to regional or local causes but are supported by the global team. Kaizen Institute Romania, for instance, gathered volunteers, students, and representatives of the administrative, business, educational, and NGO environments to support the Romulus Vuia National Ethnographic Park in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.[9] This event was one of multiple initiatives organized as part of “Kaizen Brilliance for the Cities of Romania - 5S Public”, a promotion of a “change-for-the-better” approach to develop education through cleanliness in cities.[9]


A KAIZEN™ seminar led by Kaizen Institute in Connecticut in 1988 was instrumental in opening the eyes of several business leaders to the potential of kaizen.[5] This included the Danaher Corporation, Art Byrne (who led the turnaround of The Wiremold Company), and George Koenigsaecker who led HON Industries.[10][11]

The focus on productivity in industries has been widely credited to the Japanese strategy of kaizen companies to integrate tenets of kaizen in all their processes, including management, marketing and sales, and production, to experience a resulting decrease in waste yet a boost in productivity.[12][13][14]

Masaaki Imai’s second best-selling book, Gemba Kaizen (published in 1997 by McGraw-Hill) illustrated how companies worldwide, many supported by Kaizen Institute, were practicing KAIZEN.

Mr. Imai has also been recognized for his contributions with the 1998 “Asia-Pacific Human Resource Development Award” followed by the “Shingo Research and Professional Publication Prize” in 1999 for his work on Gemba Kaizen.[15] He was also recognized for his lifetime contribution to the field of Quality by the 2010 “First Honorary Fellow of Quality Control of India.”[16] “The BrandLaureate Legendary Award” is the latest accolade bestowed upon him in 2019 by the Asia Pacific Brands Foundation.[17]

Kaizen Institute acts as a body that recognizes achievement in operational excellence by organizations worldwide through its annual Global KAIZEN Award event and local KAIZEN Award events.[18][19] These awards are offered on both global and local scales, and acknowledges the mastery in various categories, such as excellence in a Continuous Improvement system.[20]

Consulting and Training Services

Kaizen Institute offers its consulting services worldwide to all sectors and industries based on the “KAIZEN™ Business System.”[21][22]

Management Consulting

Management consulting is often understood as an integral part of applying kaizen methodology, of which Lean is an outcome.[23] Lean must be seen as a result of holistically applying kaizen approaches in the pursuit of organizational excellence. Applying Continuous Improvement has been promoted by Kaizen Institute as a strategy to increase customer value (at various levels and for numerous stakeholders), by optimizing work processes through empowering people and working towards a common purpose.

Notable corporations that integrated Continuous Improvement as an organizational strategy include FedEx Express, who have used it during their recovery from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.[24] Alongside, Nike also devised new ways to assert sustainability in their manufacturing process through the utilization of Continuous Improvement.[24]

Training and Certification

Kaizen Institute began exploring alternative methods of sharing the benefits of kaizen through Kaizen Teaching AG, which was founded and registered in Zug, Switzerland in 1991. Kaizen Teaching AG, however, became KICG (Kaizen Institute Consulting Group) in 2007 after integrating legal tenets to the structure. KAIZEN™ College developed from this structure.[25]

Currently Kaizen Institute offers various channels by which the kaizen approach is taught by experienced consultants and trainers. Firstly through in-person, classroom courses called KAIZEN™ Training, and secondly by means of web-based resources available through Kaizen Institute Online.[26] Thirdly, kaizen is taught through practical training at client facilities. Due to the social isolation policies necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaizen Institute started providing virtual training as well.

Kaizen Institute created the KAIZEN College, a three-level certification program that teaches their methodology through classroom seminars and experiential simulations, as well as practice at the gemba to become Certified KAIZEN Practitioners (CKP).[27][26][28]


Kaizen Institute’s history with industry tours began before the firm’s conception, with the first gemba tour led by Masaaki Imai in 1981.[1] These tours, which enlighten participants about the strategic and operational value of kaizen methodology in transformed (and still changing) organizations, are now presented as KAIZEN™ Insight Tours and KAIZEN™ Benchmark Tours.

KAIZEN™ Insight Tours take place in Japan, where kaizen methods were pioneered, and expose participants to various high-performing companies saturated in a culture of Continuous Improvement.[29][30] Concurrently, their KAIZEN™ Benchmark Tours offer the opportunity for companies worldwide to demonstrate their application of kaizen to other professionals looking to adopt these principles and practices.[31]

Research and Publishing

Kaizen Institute consultants have published various works on implementing KAIZEN in the workplace and beyond, beginning with Masaaki Imai’s Kaizen (published in 1986 by McGraw-Hill), which directly followed the establishment of Kaizen Institute. This best-selling book is referred to as a guide book to understanding the effective implementation of kaizen.[32]

Euclides Coimbra, Managing Partner at Kaizen Institute Western Europe, later wrote Kaizen in Logistics and Supply Chains (published in 2013 by McGraw-Hill Education) during his 14th year at Kaizen Institute, having amassed extensive experience in supply chain consultancy over a 25-year career at the time of his publication.[33]

The latest book through Kaizen Institute came from the pen of Antonio Bastos, Managing Partner Western Europe, and Charlie Sharman: Strat to Action: The KAIZEN™ Method for Turning Strategy into Action (published in 2020 by McGraw-Hill).[32]

Alongside these publications, Kaizen Institute’s business units often conduct research projects to present and assist their clients with solutions to global conditions. During the most recent global economic downturn, they produced an extensive COVID-19 Economic Barometer that surveyed more than 220 CEOs of medium and large companies about their response to the pandemic.[34]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "About us". Kaizen.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. AG, DV Bern. "Kaizen Institute AG". Commercial register of canton Zug. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  3. Graban, Mark (2012). Healthcare kaizen : engaging front-line staff in sustainable continuous improvements. Swartz, Joseph E. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis/CRC Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-4398-7296-3. OCLC 769546186.
  4. Imai, Masaaki (1986). Kaizen (Ky'zen), the key to Japan's competitive success (1st ed.). New York: Random House Business Division. ISBN 0-394-55186-9. OCLC 13010323.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Emiliani, Bob. "Early TPS Training". bobemiliani.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. "Gemba Research, Kaizen Institute combine forces to become global lean resource". www.reliableplant.com. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  7. "How Kaizen can Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement". Zenkit. 2020-03-05. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  8. Paredes, Divina (2014-07-13). "Why Kaizen Institute office (deliberately) forgot to buy desk chairs". CIO. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Rottaprint, Kaizen Institute partner for the cities of Romania". Rottaprint. 2019-12-06. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  10. "George Koenigsaecker – Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma Definitions". Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  11. IndustryWeek. "IndustryWeek's Manufacturing Hall of Fame -- Class of 2010". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  12. "Emak, +25% di produttività grazie ai bolognesi dell'istituto Kaizen". BolognaToday (in italiano). Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  13. "Kaizen Case Study: Siemens Oostkamp | Kaizen-News.com". Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  14. "Unilabs and Care IQ collaborate to boost quality of care – careIQ". www.care-iq.com. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  15. Rabunets, Pavel (2010-11-25). "Biography_Masaaki_Imai_V10" – via LinkedIn SlideShare.
  16. "Svijet kvalitete - Masaaki Imai". www.svijet-kvalitete.com. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  17. "Masaaki Imai awarded with "The BrandLaureate Legendary Award"". Kaizen.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. "CEVA in Iberia awarded Logistics Excellence Award by Kaizen Institute". CEVAlogistics.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. "Carpigiani has won the Kaizen Award". www.aligroup.it. Retrieved 2020-07-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. Propaganda, Kzulo. "ZEN wins Kaizen Lean Award - ZEN SA". ZEN S.A. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  21. Bähr, Johannes. (2015). Bosch : history of a global enterprise. C.H. Beck. ISBN 978-3-406-68359-6. OCLC 1154560934.
  22. "Use KAIZEN™". Kaizen.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. "Global Lean Transformation". Kaizen.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. 24.0 24.1 Marmol, Lorenzo Del (2017-06-03). "2 Impactful Examples of Worldwide Companies Using Lean Management". Lean Six Sigma Belgium. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  25. "Mr. Vinod Grover, Founder Director, Kaizen Institute (India) Pvt Ltd and Kaizen Institute - Africa". www.indiainfoline.com. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  26. 26.0 26.1 "Certification". AFRKaizen.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  27. https://kim.kaizen.com/kimglobal/userfiles/File/pt/Kaizen%20College%20Brochure%202016_EN.pdf
  28. "Kaizen Lean Academy". AFRKaizen.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. "Visit Japan to Study Lean Healthcare and Continuous Improvement | Organized by Kaizen Institute and Mark Graban". www.japanleantrip.com. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  30. "More Thoughts on the Next Japan Lean & Kaizen Study Trip". Lean Blog. 2018-01-19. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  31. "Inside Toyota's Takaoka #2 Line - Flexibility and Kaizen". Lean Blog. 2019-06-11. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  32. 32.0 32.1 "Learning Materials". Kaizen.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  33. "Kaizen in Logistics and Supply Chains". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 2020-07-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  34. "COVID-19 Pandemic Evolution, Economic Barometer and KAIZEN™ Strategy". Kaizen.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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