Lean thinking and kaizen events can boost efficiency

All organizations have inefficiencies processes that don’t work well and are either slow or produce the too much substandard product. However, as a business owner, you don’t have to stand for this! Utilizing Lean Thinking and Kaizen tools can help improve your processes and reduce wasteful inefficiencies.

Kaizen events are focused activities which target quick and sustainable improvements to your business. Involving the key stakeholders from the business and utilizing a structured methodology to both measures the problems and to implement robust improvements.

Originating in the Japanese automotive world, lean thinking and kaizen are not just for manufacturing virtually all business can use this powerful tool to unlock their potential. For example – why live with excessive product quality issues? You just simply use a kaizen event to study the problem and resolve it.

How do Kaizen events work?

Kaizen events typically follow three stages

1) Initial preparation

  • Data gathering
  • Workshops to review issues

2) “The Kaizen event

  • Dedicated resources (main process stakeholders)
  • Enough time to review the process in sufficient detail
  • Review current process (consider process mapping) and capture key issues
  • Develop an improvement plan and new process
  • Develop implementation plan
  • Implement controls (i.e. metrics/reviews)
  • Finally, implement

3) Follow up

  • Review process or metrics to ensure they are within agreed tolerances of the new process
  • Carry out further training
  • Review any lessons learnt

Kaizen means, simply, continuous improvement. It is based on the fundamentals of scientific analysis in which you analyze (take apart) the elements of a process or system to understand how it works so that you can learn how to influence it (make it better). As such, it is the building block of all the lean production methodologies; it is the foundation upon which all of these methods have been built. Once your company has committed to supporting a culture of continuous improvement, kaizen events can be held periodically to make focused changes in the workplace. These events will take a magnifying glass, so to speak, to each process and every operation in the plant in order to eliminate waste and improve the product.

Many people who are unaware of Kaizen will ask “what benefits do use kaizen bring to the company?” it brings shortcuts; it brings new and better ways of doing things which makes the work easier and eliminate the unnecessary things we do.

Kaizen events are generally organized so that focus and emphasis can be laid upon the problems pertaining to the development of products along with the reorganization of the company’s methodology of working as well as matters relating to the administration. Companies having such problems must conduct Kaizen events so they can thoroughly discuss the issues and find optimal solutions to the same.

The key to kaizen is that it can involve all key stakeholders creating a workforce team to bring about improvement – this overcomes typical improvement plans which may be loaded onto the workforce without consultation.

Used correctly Kaizen can be a powerful tool for change that can deliver significant efficiency gains and increased profit.