Kaizen Events

The most common time for a kaizen event is during the initial stages of a project or new initiative, but they can be helpful at any stage in your business’s life cycle. There are two main types of Kaizen – Daily Kaizen and Kaizen Events. Kaizen is a Lean tool and is commonly used in Lean manufacturing.

Daily Kaizen

Kaizen is a philosophy that brings together two Japanese words KAI meaning change or improvement, and ZEN, meaning good. Kaizen was developed as a workplace culture focused on continuous organizational process improvement through employee suggestions and feedback. Daily Kaizen is the practice of seeking opportunities for enhancement across the entire organization every day. These changes are usually small and incremental and can result from many PDSA cycles (We all know it is – Plan-Do-Study-Act). It’s about teaching employees efficient behaviours to know how to implement superior performance in areas like a consistent improvement to customer service or workflow processes.

Daily Kaizen offers real advantages over Kaizen events as culturally, this demonstrates a commitment to a continuous improvement mindset and approach. There are many advantages of daily Kaizen, such as:

– Everyone can be involved in what we call Kaizen – a Japanese philosophy espousing the importance of continuous improvement. There are no shortcuts to success. The act of continually improving on work that has already been completed will help ensure that your applications (application) consistently meet or exceed audience expectations (expectations).

– It is very much like an Andon cord (another lean tool seen in lean manufacturing) and enables you to solve problems daily constantly.

– Daily Kaizen is built into the typical working day and does not need resources to be released or allocated to an event. Being built into the day also reinforces the continuous improvement approach of your organization.

– Unexpected opportunities for improvement can be identified through empowerment by having the vision, focus, creativity, problem-solving and continuous improvement built into every day.

– Kaizen events improve employee engagement and motivation. Being able to improve the work you do is a great way to engage and motivate teams. There is nothing worse than working on flawed processes, having ideas for improvement, and not applying them.

Kaizen Events - types of event

Kaizen Events

Kaizen events are just what the name says – sporadic events. They have planned occurrences with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. They range anywhere from 2 to 5 days long. During a Kaizen event, a small cross-functional team usually focuses 100% of their energy over that period to identify and execute improvements to a targeted issue, process or value stream.

When does it make the most sense to hold a Kaizen event? Usually under the following circumstances:

-Kaizen Event type 1 – The first step in creating a new product line. This could include developing a prototype, conducting market research, or even starting a pilot program with one customer.

-Kaizen Event type 2 – A change that will improve a current process or service. For example, suppose there is a bottleneck in production, and it takes too long to get parts from suppliers. In that case, this may be an excellent opportunity to introduce automation into the system so that more orders can be processed faster. Or maybe you need to make changes to how customers receive their order confirmation emails because they aren’t getting them on time.

-Kaizen Event type 3: Continuous Improvement

Things start to become interesting now. When you are looking at ways of improving your processes for continuous improvement, you might want to look at what could happen with your current systems and think about new technologies that could help you achieve better results. It’s important not to focus on one area as you don’t know which areas will have the biggest impact until you implement some improvements.

Kaizen events - a typical 5 day event

A ‘typical’ 5 day Kaizen Event 

Kaizen events can range from 2-5 days, depending on the magnitude of the improvement work to be done. Here is an example of a schedule for a five-day event. A 5-day event requires significant resource commitments for a multidisciplinary team to be released for five days to work on the problems.

– Day 1 – Define your goals for the event, the desired outcomes and the background information. Map and understand the current processes and identify wastes. Evaluate the process and understand the costs, times and bottlenecks. Next we will dive deeper into the value stream mapping.

– Day 2 – Dive deeper into the existing processes and examine and identify the root causes of wastes and potential solutions applying Lean principles. The aim is to achieve consensus on the improvements to be implemented within this event(but also document other potential solutions that cannot be achieved. Identify the resources needed to implement the improvements.

– Day 3 – Next, we will look to implement the improvements. Now it is time to build solutions and apply the learning from the event so far.

– Day 4 – We will now test the improvements. Here it is essential to reiterate the need to measure the results and compare them against our current state. Make any adjustments necessary based on the learning from your tests and test again! Update the documentation and standardize the process and procedures ready for implementation.

– Day 5 – Train the employees on the new standardized process. Communicate the changes to all relevant stakeholders and the wider organization. Review the event and share the learning and success to help inform and improve future events. Celebrate the success and recognize the impact of the team members and their contributions.

What is the best daily Kaizen or Kaizen events?

Asking which is better is a bit like asking which is the best garden tool. Both daily and events have their uses, just like if you need to cut the grass, a mower is best, but if you are trimming your hedges, it isn’t much help. Kaizen events are for more extensive problems and will take more time and resources. If we had to choose one as “better”, we would choose daily Kaizen. If you have implemented daily in your organization, then the culture of continuous improvement is likely to be more embedded and more visible every day.

If you are following a lean methodology both Kaizen methods will generate improvement ideas and incremental improvements. Kaizen events will be better suited when you are looking for major improvements.

Personal Kaizen

Kaizen is the Japanese philosophy that supports people to set significant, challenging goals for themselves and then chunk them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. It is not just a technique that is good for your production process but you can apply a Kaizen culture to your personal processes.

Make it a daily habit of working on a tiny improvement of your own, whether it’s in your professional life or otherwise. Just like drops of water will wear away a stone over time, incremental changes made daily can have a significant impact. What’s more, is that you’ll gradually become fixated on accomplishing your big goal—the result may be something monumental!

Kaizen Events - personal Kaizen

Keep it simple and small

Setting goals can be a challenging process, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of just trying to think about all that you have to do to reach your goal so far away from where you can’t even see the beginning of how it’s going to happen, break down the goal into smaller actionable steps along the way. That will help make everything more manageable when you look at it bit by bit rather than focusing on the whole picture! If you need motivation, remember that there’s plenty of inspiration available when you start making strides toward your new achievements!

Understand the process

Come up with a repeatable action plan for the process you want to improve that is well thought out, written down, and organized so that you can quickly figure out what you are supposed to be doing at any given time. Then evaluate whether this unique plan of action is efficient by asking yourself if the plan accomplishes your desired results. You’ll know it’s time for a change if the answer is no – then feel free to innovate by adjusting it however you think best!

Use your time wisely

These days it seems that there is simply never enough time in the day to do everything on our to-do lists, from finishing reports to getting some air at lunch. However, you need to remember to make time for a break every day so that you can recharge your batteries and keep up with everything else. We understand that it’s difficult, but instead of postponing things piling up on your plate for ages, it only leads to greater stress levels over time! Why not set aside enough time during the night before to organize your schedule and allocate a specific amount of time every day for you to work towards achieving your goals one step at a time?

Eliminate waste 

On your way to achieve your goal, you may find things that steal away your focus but do not add value. You might feel exhausted and weighed down by things that aren’t actually improving your life at the moment or are actively working against you. For example, if you have depression, forcing yourself to study languages with a tutor might not be effective because of the distraction it presents from publishing something online or completing a project on time – which is more critical to your ultimate success.

Measure your progress

A key element of Kaizen is tracking your progress and evaluating the effectiveness of any changes. Measure the change and assess if it has worked before adopting or adapting it based on what you have learned. Kaizen is an iterative process, and you need to keep planning, doing, checking and acting all the time.

Small changes can truly make significant differences in your life.

Standardize and celebrate

When you hit on something that works, then make that your new standard. You may then want to consider rolling out the change to the broader organization (your family, friends or work colleagues).

Make sure you celebrate the success, maybe treat yourself to something you like. But more seriously, recognizing the benefits only serves to motivate you to undertake even more continuous improvement.

Please go on, start small today and try