It comes from two words: Kai, meaning “change”, and Zen, meaning “ideal state”.
This means to break down or change the current situation and then build it into the ideal state. Kaizen!
The principle is at the heart of the philosophy that has made Toyota and others, including Virginia Mason Medical Center, so successful and sustainable.
It’s about getting front-line staff to approach problem solving and root cause analysis from a different, ceaselessly inquisitive perspective.