5 books everyone who wants to practise Kaizen should read

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Kaizen is a philosophy of constant and continuous improvement. The word itself in Japanese means “change for the better”.

Kaizen is best known as the core management principle in Japanese companies.

Moreover, Kaizen as a general method suitable for any kind of improvement of standardized processes was also applied into other  human activities such as health care, psychotherapy, life-coaching and other. From personal development topics such as improving one’s productivity, mastering good habits and bettering one’s life to the improvement of work processes and increasing efficiency in company or a factory.

We have picked the best books in the field which every Kaizen practitioner should read:

Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success
by Masaaki Imai


The most famous book from the Kaizen pioneer and founder of Kaizen Institute. Masaaki Imai has helped more than 200 professionals in his career worldwide to optimize their organization structure and implement Kaizen into their business processes. The book covers relevant aspects of Kaizen and its implementations and therefore is a great introduction to the field of continuous improvement.

Amazon’s description: 
“For the professional manager or student of management, a comprehensive handbook of 16 Kaizen management practices that can be put to work. KAIZEN uses more than 100 examples in action and contains 15 corporate case studies.”

Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense Approach to a Continuous Improvement Strategy
by Masaaki Imai


According to Kaizen, the best improvement ideas and a clear view of problems will come only by going to the Gemba. Gemba can be defined as a place where the work is done, or place where value is added – laboratories, design studios, manufactories, sales points, stores… Masaaki Imai will show you, how can Kaizen be successfully applied in a wide range of industries on more than 20 real use cases described in his book.

Amazon’s description:
“Written by Masaaki Imai, pioneer of modern business operational excellence and founder of the Kaizen Institute, Gemba Kaizen is an in-depth revision of this renowned, bestselling work. The book reveals how to implement cost-effective, incremental improvements in your most critical business processes.

The methods presented in Gemba Kaizen reveal that when management focuses on implementing kaizen (incremental, continuous improvement) in the gemba (the worksite) unique opportunities can be discovered for increasing the success and profitability of any organization.”

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way
by Robert Mauer, Ph.D.


This book is inspired by Kaizen philosophy, but is not about manufacturing techniques. It falls into the self-help category or a motivational literature. But contrary to many other books from this field it offers practical information and proofed advice on how to really make the change in your life by using method of small improvements.

Amazon’s description:
“The essential guide to kaizen—the art of making great and lasting change through small, steady steps—is now repackaged as an impulse paperback with a dazzling new cover that speaks to its proper positioning as a self-help/inspiration title that’s applicable to business as well.

Written by Dr. Robert Maurer, a psychologist on the staff of both the University of Washington School of Medicine and Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, and an expert on kaizen who speaks and consults nationally, One Small Step Can Change Your Life is the gentle but potent way to effect change. It is for anyone who wants to lose weight. Or quit smoking. Or write a novel, start an exercise program, get out of debt, or conquer shyness and meet new people.”

The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer
by Jeffrey Liker


In this book, a leading expert on Japanese management systems Jeffrey Liker reveals the secret of the phenomenal success of Toyota and its production system with management philosophy and practices. It is exactly like its author says – this book will teach you how you can speed up business processes, improve quality, and cut costs in any industry.

Amazon’s description:
“In factories around the world, Toyota consistently makes the highest-quality cars with the fewest defects of any competing manufacturer, while using fewer man-hours, less on-hand inventory, and half the floor space of its competitors. The Toyota Way is the first book for a general audience that explains the management principles and business philosophy behind Toyota’s worldwide reputation for quality and reliability.”

Creating a Kaizen Culture
by Jon Miller, Mike Wroblewski and Jaime Villafuerte

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This book focuses on the most important pieces of every effective organization – its employees. Authors shared their thoughts and experiences on how to increase people’s engagement by creating a Kaizen culture. Book contains real world examples from companies such as Zappos, Toyota, Wiremold and others.

Amazon’s description:
“Transforming a culture is far more about emotional growth than technical maturity. Co-written by leaders at the Kaizen Institute, Creating a Kaizen Culture explains how to enable an adaptive, excellent, and sustainable organization by leveraging core kaizen values and the behaviors they generate.”


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