top of page

Lean and Mean: Using Kaizen/Gemba to Enhance Performance

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Using Kaizen to enhance business performance - and eliminate waste.

Today’s management model review covers Kaizen/Gemba.

Kaizen/Gemba is all about eliminating waste. Waste reduces margins. Time spent dealing with waste is time not spent on profit-generating activities, so by successfully working through Kaizen/Gemba and reducing waste, we should see improvement in margins, sales volume, and other metrics.

The 5 Fundamental Elements of Kaizen/Gemba are:

1) Teamwork

2) Personal discipline

3) Improved morale

4) Quality circles

5) Suggestions for improvement

These 5 elements are supported by Kaizen events – forums for employees to discuss possible solutions to business problems, or to suggest general improvements or changes.

There are 7 Primary Areas of Waste in Kaizen/Gemba:

1) Defective products

2) Over-production

3) Transportation

4) Waiting

5) Excess inventory

6) Motion

7) Extra processing

Steel distribution hits on all of these! And we’ll be looking at them in more depth in tomorrow's video, but here’s some highlights:

Defective Products

How much time is wasted on claims? How could your claims process be streamlined or improved? What are you doing with your vendors to ensure product integrity from manufacturer to customer (incl. processing and handling)?


Excess inventory means people cut pricing aggressively when they need cash, to avoid year-end inventory taxes, or simply to get the product moved as replacement costs drop. How is your procurement strategy contributing to this type of waste?


When did you last competitively bid your trucking and other logistics costs? When was the last time you asked your vendors to look at those as well?


Pipe hits the docks. An upsetter goes down. Truck gets lost, breaks down, and so on.

Excess inventory

PE, or bare pipe in inventory? This raises questions at both the product management level, and the sales management level. It may also be that these two departments / individuals are not communicating effectively.


How quickly and efficiently does the product move from manufacturer to processor, to customer. Where do errors commonly arise, and how can they be mitigated or eliminated?

Extra processing

Prove up, threading or heat treat rejects, bad ends, dents, no drifts. As a manufacturer, what are the gaps in your QC policies that result in these issues? As a buyer, do you have an efficient way of dealing with these issues and recouping costs?

The 5 elements of Kaizen/Gemba will work to create the necessary pillars / behaviors / competencies / structures that go into eliminating waste and maximizing capital resources.


Kaizen/Gemba necessarily involves communication among and between internal departments, vendors, customers, logistics providers, and others. You cannot use this model by yourself.

Personal discipline

Everyone has to be working toward the objective of reducing waste. This starts with the individual.

Improved morale

When everyone is working and pitching in, the morale of the team is bound to improve. Seeing gains in efficiency will also improve morale, as work is done faster and more effectively.

Quality Circles

Kaizen/Gemba starts to gain momentum among those involved. Improvements beget further improvements.

Suggestions for improvement

Your company culture is now centered around maximum efficiency. Communication improves and the company’s overall mindset shifts from fixed to growth.

Have you used Kaizen/Gemba or something similar? What are your thoughts on this model?


About the Author:

Matt Beckmann - Management Consultant - Executive Coach

Matt Beckmann is the Founder & Managing Director of Ascent Consultants. In addition to experience as a former Chief of Staff to the Missouri Auditor and as a Corporate Vice President and General Counsel, he has advanced training and certifications in law, business, coaching, athletics, and leadership. His blog content, inspired by his deep passion for unlocking his reader's best potential, consistently equips business owners and individuals with the knowledge and resources to overcome obstacles that may be hindering growth.

Ascent Consultants - Management Consultants to Enable Your Business Growth

Ascent Consultants provides business and strategy consulting, executive and leadership coaching, and leadership assessments. By converting client growth goals into an actionable "game plan," we help companies and individuals unlock their full potential.

Recent Posts

See All


Casual Business Meeting

Insights For Today's Corporations and Executives

bottom of page