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‘Kaizen Strategies for Improving Team Performance’ edited by Michael Colenso

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Kaizen Strategies for Improving Team Performance: How to accelerate team development and enhance team productivity.
Edited by Michael Colenso.
Financial Times Prentice-Hall, 1999.
Hardback, 222 pages, £24.99.
ISBN 0 273 63986 2


Kaizen is described at the start of the book, the 4th in a series using the technique (a 5th ‘Kaizen Strategies for Successful Organizational Change’ is due to be published soon), as a Japanese management system that is being widely adopted in the West. I am always a little suspicious of models from other cultures, particularly those so different as the Eastern world, but my suspicions were completely dissolved in this case. Kaizen is described as meaning ‘change’ and ‘good’ , in a management sense meaning continual and gradual improvements through evolution rather than revolution, and that everything is capable of improvement. Any remaining doubts were cast away when I read the comments that when Hillary and Tensing climbed Everest in 1953, the Western papers headlined ‘Everest Conquered’, whereas the Japanese papers reported ‘Everest Befriended’.
It is obviously a harmonious, understanding and caring people management approach hat demands the caring and sharing at all levels and in all situations. This can only be good management practice.

The book is a collection of chapters contributed by various authors and supporters of Kaizen and these describe what Kaizen is and how it works; how it is applied to teams which are given empowerment rather than tasking; ‘HOT’ teams – honest, open and trusting; dealing with problems; and the practice of virtual teams and the teams of the future.
The book is liberally scattered with case studies and practical examples of the application of Kaizen in firms.

I was most impressed by this book, my first acquaintance with Kaizen and I am sure its open and common sense approach to life and work can help a wide variety of teams and organizations.

Leslie Rae
November 1999

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