One of the more important phrases that always needs to be remembered when employing kaizen is; “the next process is your customer.” This is extremely important to remember in any organization, and Mr. Imai was quick to bring this concept to light again in his conference. What typically happens is we have “walls” in between processes—Both physically and metaphorically. The different employees involved in each step rarely talk to other employees involved in the next step, or previous one. When the next process is truly considered the customer, than, and only then can we truly serve our final customer well by knowing the requirements, needs, and information needed to improve each process. If process A, considers process B (who receives product from process A) the customer, than process A will start serving their “customer” well by meeting their needs and requirements, and getting feedback from them.
This view, of viewing the next process as your customer ties in with most of the other views presented. Everything in Gemba (the place where all the action happens) deteriorates if left alone. If the next process is not viewed as your customer, than the quality will definitely deteriorate. This applies to most things in the Gemba. Hence, everything needs to be standardized (so mistakes or waste is visible, and to be improved on) and sustained. A standard should be: visible, simple, and clear. It should be improved on whenever possible. A standard is set in order to improve on and in turn make a new standard.
Mr. Imai finished talking about standards by using Disney as an example. Here are the main points on how Disney uses standards to remain as consistently one of the best at having happy customers:
1. The first contact of the customers is with those employees who sell tickets. Those employees are told that they are not ticket sellers, rather the first employees to have contact with the customers. Therefore, their job is to smile, engage with the customer, and be caught up on current events so they can help the customer in any way.
2. Greet and welcome each and every guest with a smile. Make their day special. The goal is to deliver consistently above their expectations. Every employee is charged with this.
3. Seek out guest contacts.
4. Provide immediate service recovery.
5. Display appropriate body language always.
6. Preserve the magical guest experience.
7. Thank each and every guest.
As one can see, Disney is intensely focused on delivering quality to the customer. Everything they do is with the intention of delivering value to the customer. Every job description has detailed SOP’s and are constantly improved on in order to give guests a better experience.
The same mentalities that Disney uses can be used at any other business, whether it be service or product oriented.