Tips To Ensure Your Kaizen Event Is Successful

Posted by on Oct 10, 2021 in Kaizen, Lean, Lean Six Sigma | 0 comments

Kaizen events are meant to be focused, short in length, low risk, and low cost.  The idea is to try something, see if it works, then try something else.  Kaizen events are a means of continually making improvements, identify waste and eliminate it adding more value as each new improvement is made. They are not intended to be a one-time event.

The kaizen event must be planned and structured.  It should enable a group to improve some aspect of their business.  Prior to the actual event, an area is chosen and prepared, a problem is selected, leaders and teams are selected, and a time frame is set for the event.  The actual kaizen event aims for the quick, focused discovery of root causes and quick, focused implementation of solutions.

The process of kaizen events is used as a basis for the application of Lean Six Sigma activities, such as setup reduction, 5S, daily corrective action activities, design of experiments, visual controls, housekeeping, and others.  Kaizen is a low-cost common-sense approach to incremental improvement and is a low-risk approach for value stream improvements.

Kaizen is about going after the obvious low-hanging fruit or the fruit on the ground (see graphic).  Within service processes, there is enormous potential for improvement with the simple kaizen approach.

There are six steps in a kaizen event:

  1. Develop a problem statement and deliverables.
  2. Select and educate your team.  Develop an implementation plan and schedule the event.
  3. Go to gemba, observe, identify opportunities, and measure to establish a baseline
  4. Analyze what you’re going to do, take action, and measure to determine if an improvement was achieved.
  5. Develop recommendations based on the results obtained and optimize as necessary.
  6. Implement the actions and monitor for results.

Here are some additional tips that might help:

  • Questions to ask to help identify a kaizen event
    • How can we improve our efficiency?
    • How can we eliminate waste?
    • How can we make our workplace safer?
    • How can we fail-safe the process?
    • How can we organize the work area?
    • How can we reduce scrap?
    • How can we reduce cycle time?
    • How can we reduce setup time?
  • When selecting team members, consider the following:
    • Be cross-functional and represent different areas
    • Know the process they are addressing
    • Be interested in improvement
    • Be willing to contribute
    • Be team players who value improvement of the process versus their own personal gain
  • Make sure to include team members that work in the process every day and ask them, “What can be done to make your job easier?”
  • As a team, take time to understand the current state, i.e., how the process operates before any improvements are tried.
  • Don’t spend a lot of time and effort trying things.  Use cardboard, plywood, tape, etc. to try things out.  If they make a difference, you can make it more substantial later.
  • If the event is to reduce cycle time, focus on removing as much operator motion as possible by making parts easier to handle and closer to where they are needed.
  • Closing the loop is an important step once the improvement has been successfully implemented.  This is accomplished by publishing and communicating the results of the improvement to all employees within the organization.
  • Be open-minded to continuous improvement.
  • Maintain a positive attitude.
  • Waste elimination is everyone’s responsibility.
  • Reject excuses and be driven to seek solutions.
  • Ask why, why, why, why, why,…
  • Do not wait to be asked to intervene.
  • Take action and implement countermeasures immediately.
  • Use all of the team’s knowledge during all phases of the event.


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