Radical change, revolutionary improvement or reform. These are often changes that affect entire organizations, business practices of business systems.


A business practice and philosophy of continuous improvement by persistently making many small changes. Kaizen is the Japanese for "improvement".

Kaizen Event

A team-based improvement workshop typically lasting three to five days during which the team members identify and implements significant improvements within one or more processes. Kaizen events are preceded a preparation phase including selection of team members, setting of targets, and arranging of materials and support for making changes. Kaizen events are followed by a follow-up phase during which open action items are completed, improvements are confirmed, and processes are stabilized.

Kaizen Newspaper

A visual tool for continuous improvement ideas and actions. Kaizen Newspapers specify at a minimum, the improvement details of what, when, who, why and how close the task is to completion. It is a "newspaper" in the sense that it should be updated daily.


A method for performing audits of process standards. Kamishibai boards are placed in the workplace, and visited by leaders according to their leader standard work or daily management routine. The cards on the board specify what standard to observe and what defines its "normal" or OK condition. These cards are shuffled periodically and placed in the board to randomize when a process will be audited. Cards have red and green sides, allowing the auditor to indicate normal vs. abnormal status. The term kamishibai originates from a traditional Japanese paper theater that used large cards with painted scenes to tell stories and teach morals.

See also Process Confirmation

Kamishibai board

A visual management tool used to perform kamishibai audits.


A signaling device that authorizes and instructs the production or movement of items in a pull system. Kanban is Japanese for “sign” or “sign board.” Kanban cards often are slips of card stock including information such as part name, part number, external supplier or internal supplying process, pack-out quantity, storage address, the consuming process' address, and barcode or QR code. Kanbans may take the form of triangular metal plates, colored balls, electronic signals, containers, or other forms that convey the required information.

Kanban perform two functions in a production operation, to instruct processes to make products and to instruct material handlers to move products. First type is called production kanban and the second called withdrawal kanban. Production and withdrawal kanbans work together to create a pull system. An operator at a downstream process removes a withdrawal kanban when using the first item in a container. This kanban is placed in a nearby collection box. A material handler collects the kanban from this box. The material handler returns to the upstream supermarket and places the withdrawal kanban on a new container of parts for delivery downstream. When this container is removed from the supermarket, the production kanban on the container is taken and placed in a collection box. The material handler from the upstream process returns this production kanban to the upstream process where it signals the need to produce one container of parts.

Kanban Board

A method to visualize the quantity and progress of work tasks. A kanban board typically arranges sticky notes or cards in rows to represent tasks and uses columns to represent each stage of the process, such as not started, in process, delayed, waiting review, done, and so forth. Commonly used in Agile and other development, transactional or knowledge work.

Kanban Card

Physical signals used in a kanban system to authorize production or movement of goods. These are often printed on cardstock, protected in clear vinyl envelopes, and contain information such as part name, part number, supplier name, pack-out quantity, storage address, the kanban delivery cycle, the consuming process address and a bar code.

Kanban Cycle

The delivery cycle of a unit of material within a kanban system expressed in terms of days per cycle, deliveries per cycle and number of deliveries after which a particular kanban card will return with its material. A kanban cycle of 1:2:4 would mean 1 day cycle, 2 deliveries per cycle (day) and that this particular kanban would come back after 4 delivery cycles.

Kanban Post

A storage container where kanban cards are placed after the contain has been withdrawn and the kanban separated from the container.

Kano Model

A method to consider customer preferences for product or service features by visualizing them on two axis. Products and services have features and attributes that are:

  1. must-have or basic expectations that must be met
  2. performance, or satisfiers, that are not necessary but increase customer satisfaction
  3. attractive or delithers that customers may not know they want but excite them when they are present

The Kano Model is used in product development and customer satisfaction.


The use of simple mechanisms without a dedicated power source to assist in performing work. Karakuri are often powered by gravity, springs, counterweights, pendulums, gears, a pedal or handle, energy from another machine, the flow of water or the weight of a workpiece. Karakuri perform simple tasks such as lifting, conveyance or reorienting materials. Karakuri are often very low cost, hand-made in-house and customized to the needs of a specific process. The guiding principles of karakuri are:

  1. avoid using human hands to move objects,
  2. avoid spend money to automate,
  3. use the force of your equipment,
  4. use the wisdom and creativity of the people who do the work,
  5. build devices that stop by themselves to prevent unsafe operation


The Japanese word for form or pattern, as in a sequence of movements in martial arts used to build muscle memory. In business, kata are routines to develop good habits.

See also Toyota Kata

Key Characteristic

Product characteristics such as fit, function, appearance, or the ability to process or build the product, whose reasonable and expected variation is likely to significantly affect customer satisfaction.

Key Performance Indicator

The the few, specific, quantifiable measures by which an individual or organization evaluates success. Abbreviated KPI.


A set of materials, parts, information and tools for performing a specific process.


The preparation and delivery of a precise set of materials, parts, information and tools to a process.

KJ Method

Kobetsu Kaizen