The decision to hold a Kaizen Event can stem from an urgent problem that arises or a timely need to hit target goals. Other factors that can lead to the organization of a Kaizen Event could be the necessity for cross-functional collaboration or the realization of the ineffectiveness of current improvement efforts.

Overview: What is a Kaizen Event?

A Kaizen Event is a 3-5 day workshopping event that is directed toward a specific goal for the improvement of a process.

3 benefits of a Kaizen Event

There are several benefits of hosting a Kaizen Event:

1. Problem-solving from the bottom up

In a Kaizen Event, teams are able to apply their most creative thinking to the roadblocks that are hindering processes. This requires a strong bridge between leadership and the people that do the day-to-day work, as well as a unified agreement on strategy implementation. This makes everyone better at their roles in a company from the bottom up.

2. Lab-style learning

If you remember what a slog your science classes were, you may also remember how the information sunk in much better when you got to do the labs. A Kaizen Event provides a similar sort of hands-on learning.

3. Collaboration

With a Kaizen Event, the effort is concentrated on the 3-5 day period in a very collaborative setting. This teaches collaboration amongst departments where there might not be previously.

Why are Kaizen Events important to understand?

Here are a few reasons why Kaizen Events are important to understand:

Kaizen culture

Kaizen is loosely translated from the Japanese language as “change for the betterment,” and Kaizen culture puts a focus on continual improvement and finding ways to change routines that will result in betterment over the short and long term.

Having a good understanding of Kaizen Events will help you get the right people involved

A major component of the success of a Kaizen Event is having the right people involved. They need to be motivated and have a solid understanding of the process that needs improvement. Having a good grasp of Kaizen Events and what you are hoping to achieve from one will help you pick the right people to be part of it.

Understanding Kaizen Events can make them an ever-ready tool

Kaizen Events are short, but they are strategies that can be a part of your long-term business strategies.

An industry example of a Kaizen Event

A record pressing plant has not been meeting quality standards, and they have just gotten the contract to press a large quantity of Adele’s next album. There is concern amongst everyone on staff that they will not be able to address whatever process issues are causing the quality dip in time for the album’s release in four months. An executive decides to have a Kaizen Event in order to get things on track.

In preparation for the event, it is agreed upon to limit the scope of the event to dealing with this one major issue and not any other issues that there may be in the company. It is understood that Kaizen Events that focus on projects that have a timespan of 90-120 days tend to be the most successful, which puts the Adele release date right in line. The event will focus on process as opposed to any technological concerns, as this is more straightforward and easier to sort out immediately.

It is understood that there need to be no predetermined solutions mapped out and that the team needs to go in with an open mind towards improvements. Staff are picked to work on processes that are well-versed in Lean and Six Sigma methodology. A facilitator with a background of superior organization and communication skills is picked along with a senior manager. This manager’s role is to sponsor the event, secure resources, and remove roadblocks.

An agenda is developed to cover the necessary topics, the sequence in which they will be covered, and their timing.

The Kaizen Event is so well-organized that the staff leaves it feeling confident and ready to make the necessary improvements in processes. They successfully manage to wrangle their quality control in time for the album release.

4 best practices when thinking about Kaizen Events

There are some key practices when putting together a Kaizen Event:

1. Preparation

This is likely the most important part of a Kaizen Event. During preparation, the problem is defined that the event will tackle. This is done by creating a problem statement. This involves answering things like who, what, when, where, and how much.

From here, you focus on making a goal statement. It addresses the problem statement, identifies the timing, as well as lays out what is expected performance-wise for improvement. A goal statement should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART).

The next step is to clarify the scope of the project. This means setting a clear time period of beginning and end. This is also when the boundaries for the project are determined.

2. Training

Team members need to have the appropriate process improvement training. This includes the goals, tools, and methodology of Lean and Six Sigma. A focus of training should be root cause analysis as well as value stream mapping.

3. Implementation

With the proper mapping of the current process, the team will identify waste, bottlenecks, defects, and redundancies. A series of steps can then be mapped towards the desired future state.

4. Follow up

An important practice will be following up with individual members of the team to see how the changes in the process are going. This can help gauge the success of the Kaizen Event as well as identify areas that can be further improved.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Kaizen Events

Are there different types of Kaizen Events?

Yes. There are waste kaizens, error-proofing kaizens, lead time kaizens, and visual management kaizens.

What are the keys to a successful Kaizen Event?

They can be simplified as “Plan, Do, Check, and Act.”

What are the elements of Kaizen?

There are five key elements to Kaizen. They are teamwork, personal discipline, improved morale, quality circles, and suggestions for improvement.

Kaizen Events for your business

Now that you are versed in what a Kaizen Event is and how holding one can help your business, keep them in mind as a tool in your belt. There could come a time when an issue needs to be addressed swiftly and the answer for how to fix the issue within the company may not be obvious.

About the Author