Creating a Kaizen Culture

Align the Organization, Achieve Breakthrough Results and Sustain the Gains


“The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture.” – Edgar Schein

Organizational culture is a double-edged sword that can either elevate a company to world-class status, or reduce the most brilliant strategy to a recipe for disaster. Superior strategies, technologies and methods such as lean, kanban and six sigma fail without human systems to link effective leaders with engaged employees. The kaizen process, when applied mindfully to organizational culture, has been proven to achieve this. Leaders who create kaizen cultures enable their people to engage, innovate, adapt and sustain high performance.

Kaizen culture is the “secret sauce” that turns disconnected and incremental tool-based improvements into sustainable organization-wide transformations. “Creating a Kaizen Culture” is a must-read for managers whose organizations are striving for world class excellence.

Kaizen Culture

What is it?

Executive overview of organizational culture, the definition and origins of kaizen and lean, core principles and keys to success, and how kaizen and lean are being adopted across a wide variety of verticals and organizations.

How to Create It?

Practical descriptions of various processes used to build routines that lead to a kaizen culture, from cross-functional breakthrough kaizen projects, to daily kaizen for employee engagement, and the kaizen process extended to strategy deployment.

Who is Doing It?

More than 30 real-life examples from industry leaders such as Toyota, Chrysler, Lockheed-Martin, Herman Miller, ThedaCare and others, including commentary from executives who have successfully traveled down the kaizen culture transformation path.

The Authors

Jon Miller

Jon Miller Kaizen

Jon has 20 years of experience in the field of kaizen. He is the CEO of Kaizen Institute Consulting Group.Born in Japan and living there for 18 years, he is fluent in its language and culture, allowing him to work closely with Japanese kaizen gurus. He was co-founder and CEO of Gemba Research, in which he spent 15 years as a senior consultant and trainer, growing the firm to over 40 people before merging it with the Kaizen Institute in 2011.

Jon has traveled to over 50 countries and has wide experience designing global Lean deployment programs for many organizations. He is the author of numerous articles and has translated and edited Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management, as well as contributing to other McGraw-Hill publications including Gemba Kaizen, Second Edition, and Kaizen in Logistics and Supply Chains.

Mike Wroblewski

Mike Wroblewski Kaizen

Mike has over 25 years of experience in industrial engineering, manufacturing management and kaizen. He is a Director of Kaizen Institute USA. He has also served as an internal consultant and Lean Sensei with Batesville Casket Company with three factories winning the IndustryWeek “Top 10 Best Plants” awards a total of nine times and one facility awarded Assembly Magazine North American Plant of the Year.

He is a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Mike is a popular keynote speaker at numerous national conferences sharing his insights and experiences leading kaizen.

Jaime Villafuerte

Jaime Villafuerte Kaizen

Jaime has 20 years of experience in the strategic and tactical deployment of continuous improvement. He is a Lean Six Sigma Director at Jabil, Inc., where he leads the development and deployment of Lean Six Sigma transformation reaching 165,000+ employees in 33 countries.

This includes designing learning solutions, developing the competencies of Kaizen Regional and Site Lean managers and authoring new training courses. Jaime is an ASQ Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt and Lean Gold Certified by SME, AME and Shingo Prize. He has served as a Baldrige National Award Examiner in 2010. Jaime is the author of The Lean Six Sigma Deployment Memory Jogger.


From the Foreword

"The real-world experience of the authors is obvious as they describe problems and solutions that they and others have used to build a kaizen culture. As the authors point out, culture is determined by a set of behaviors that start at the level of the leader and filter through the rest of the organization. This book will give hope that you can change your organization too.

But remember, the time to get started is now, not next week, next month, or next year. The system is broken, you are in charge, and kaizen culture is the solution"

John Toussaint, MD
Founder and CEO
ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value

From Chapter 5

“As a leader, I believe that causing or allowing burden and stress on the people is a moral issue. I want everyone in the organization working on cutting out half of the muri—overburden on people and processes—by the end of the year.

I know [that] if we do these things, the business results will follow.”

Jeff Kaas
Kaas Tailored

From Chapter 8

“Herman Miller, since the 1950s, has been a participative environment, meaning that people have a right to influence their workspace. People have the right to demand answers to questions as to why they’re doing x, y, or z. The continuous-improvement process gives workers the tools to help change their workplace for the better.

It allows them to become engaged in improving safety, quality, and how they do their work. But without top-down support—strong leadership support around process—this will simply fail because it is hard work, and hard work doesn’t sustain itself.”.

Ken Goodson
Executive Vice President for Operations
Herman Miller

What readers are saying

"Culture, learning, adaptiveness have become casual tools in the managerial toolbox - but what do they really mean? This much needed book clarifies what culture actually means, and how to focus on a kaizen culture.

Kaizen remains the breakthrough departure point of any lean effort - in the author's terms, a people-centric, problem solving worldview to benefit society."

Michael Balle,
author of The Gold Mine, The Lean Manager,
and executive lean coachJohn Toussaint, MD

"It is a continuous journey and the authors disclose just what it takes to understand and change an organization. Creating a Kaizen Culture is both a fascinating and enlightening read needed by anyone desiring to truly understand how to accomplish this in their business"

Jim Huntzinger,
President, Lean Frontiers & author of Lean Cost Management

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Jon Miller on Creating a Kaizen Culture

Jon Miller discussing the new book on

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Jaime Villafuerte on building sustainable continuous improvement at Jabil:

Kaizen Culture: The Secret to Sustained Success:

Michael Ballé: How can we enhance intense collaboration?