Ever heard of the Kaizen concept? It is a Japanese business philosophy and literally means "continuous improvement'. Toyota is one of the well-known companies which employs this philosophy.
Kenyan rose grower Rift Valley Roses, has been operating with the Kaizen principles for over three years now, under their own journey named TUKUZA Tunaweza Kuboresha Zaidi in Swahili which translates in English to: 'we can constantly improve further'. Through Tukuza the employees and management are pleased with the improved profitability, efficiency, service and safety which are the pillars of the Kaizen concept. "We believe that it helps our team to work together and results in a better product," say co-owners Gordon and Stuart Millar.
Rift Valley Roses is a relatively new farm, established 7 years ago. Reducing their carbon footprint is an important goal, and with the installation of their solar system, which powers the whole farm, and a Biogas plant, which provides cooking fuel for the Farm Canteen.
Implementation in every department
The Kaizen concept runs throughout the company and is implemented in every department, and to help achieve within this concept each department is assessed with a view to improving effectiveness, satisfaction and waste. Teams and individuals are regularly assessed, and scored by the team leaders, with high scorers rewarded. "We have noticed that not only does the Kaizen principle benefit the company, but it is the employees who get the most out of it, with the importance of everyone participating in it as a team - "Team atmosphere, ensuring employee satisfaction, making a job more fulfilling, less tiring, and safer in all departments which contributes to a more efficient and effective working environment," says Millar.
Owner Stuart Millar and Farm Manager Peterson Muchiri in the greenhouse with team leader Esther and harvester Jen.
So how is it incorporated in the business? Every procedure from soil cultivation through to flower grading on the bunching tables has its own team and a team leader with its own self-auditing system. This ensures consistency in quality and efficiency to ensure our customers get the best product.
Icon crop bred by United Selections.
Speaking with data
In every department, data is being collected and continuously being analysed looking for constant improvements. "And we try to speak with data," says Millar. We compare data from previous months and years and use it for the future years. All in all, it contributes to a better product. Our customer satisfaction is paramount."
Packaging area, before the flowers are being sent to Fresco Flowers in the Netherlands
Rift Valley Roses
Currently, Rift Valley Roses grows 19 commercial varieties and 4 semi-commercial varieties on 27 ha, which will be 30 ha by the end of the year. The flowers harvested are sent to FloraHolland and unpacked and prepared for the auction by Fresco Flowers.