Invention, Innovation, and Kaizen

I recently read a really inspiring blog from gemba panta rei ( The post was basically a commentary from a TED video with the title Everything is a remix by Kirby Ferguson.

I know it’s a little odd to comment on a commentary blog post. But the topic is so stimulating for me to write a post on it. long story short is that I am absolutely agree with it.

The longer one is that when we considered the difference between invention, innovation and continuous improvement, we could really more see the beautiful of what Toyota has done until now.

Maasaki Imai has once stated that not only by continuous improvement we can make sure that our system is not deteriorate/maintained until the next innovation is come into being. The concept shown in the picture shows how Toyota make a difference between innovation, kaizen, and maintenance.

when we pointing to Oslo Manual that regulate innovation by European Commission. It is also said that of all innovation types of process, product, organizational, and marketing, innovation in all of them are significant changes. Thus, waiting for the innovation to appear, kaizen could really make an enormous difference to the system as depicted below.

the light blue line is innovation combined with kaizen and maintenance, whereas the blue line in the middle is innovation and maintenance, and the last pink line is when a company or a system only hold on to the concept of innovation.

What is lack from it is the part of Invention. Innovation can come from anyone in a company such as executives or engineers but Research and Development Department is formally responsible for it. Kaizen is also the responsibility of all people in the company but with the “Teachers” or  “Educators” being the Quality Department and Lean/Continuous Improvement Team. But we forget about Invention. I think in the future, it has to be someway to make invention finding as systematic as when we do both innovation and also kaizen.

Toyota has invented Prius with its sophisticated hybrid technology. But the question is can they also make invention systematic?


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