Using Kaizen Events for
by Tom McBride
Creative Solutions, Inc.
Few improvement tools compare to kaizen events for
achieving rapid positive change in an organization. Named after the Japanese word for continuous improvement,
these events use highly qualified teams to quickly attack and improve processes
critical to an organization’s success. Impressive
results have been documented for a wide variety of businesses, including
manufacturers like Freudenberg-NOK and Wiremold who have used kaizen events for
a decade or more to support their lean manufacturing initiatives.
Kaizen events can be used to solve either simple or complex
problems, but I prefer to reserve them for the select few areas where they can
make a quick, positive impact on a company’s strategic goals.
The following steps are required to plan and support each event.
the mission – Clearly document what the team is expected to
accomplish, along with its scope, budget, deliverables, and timetable. |
the team – Teams generally consist of 6-8 members that possess the
best skills and knowledge for accomplishing the mission.
Include those who work in, or are familiar with the target area, but
mix in appropriate expertise and outsiders to stimulate new thinking.
Appoint a leader, facilitator, and record-keeper. |
sponsor – This team advisor can be the senior process owner or other
executive that has a strong stake in the project’s success.|
– Gathering meaningful information about the current process in advance
will save valuable time during the event. |
time for the event – Use of overtime, appropriate timing, and support
from co-workers not involved in the event can ensure that customer
commitments are met during and after the event. |
the event – First, provide any needed training on tools and techniques
that will be used during the event. Then,
the team should proceed with an analysis of current conditions, followed by
generation of ideas for improvement. (For
more detail, see “A Powerful Process for Eliminating Waste – Parts I and
II” at www.productivityreports.com)
During a typical 2-5 day event, a team should implement as many
improvements as possible and conclude with a short report to management.|
gains – Set up simple measurements for monitoring performance of a few
key outputs and providing quick feedback to process users.|
Kaizen events are a powerful continuous improvement tool,
and when used wisely they can quickly and dramatically improve an