Kaizen is a Japanese word and in this context it refers to continuous improvement with the involvement of all stakeholders and layers of the organization. Dr. Shigeo Shingo excelled at systematically finding the root causes and permanently correcting them. He taught others how to identify root causes and identify waste, while making it enjoyable.
There are those that continuously improve and those that continuously improve faster. Continuous improvement is often not enough, many are always improving and survival requires it as the economy globalizes and competition intensifies.
The video below is an example of a well coordinated Kaizen event from start to finish. Interest is created, the material is kept simple, fun, and most importantly....results.
Speaking in terms of the long run, Kaizen is a method of problem solving to continuously improve in the most general sense. It is a never ending philosophy that starts with understanding the current state.
Kaizen requires the engagement of the workers, suppliers, and all layers of the organization. The key is seeing and understanding the problems rather
than acting on assumptions on how the process should work. Gemba walks
and actually observing the process will remove subjectivity and bias.
Thorough root cause understanding and control, relentless focus on defect prevention, targeting the vital few instead of attacking the trivial many (Pareto principle), waste elimination (not just identification and reduction), then repeat the cycle. These are tactics that accelerate the Kaizen process.
It is better to take ample time to completely understand the problem than to start immediately on random improvements. Study and analyze carefully but once the problem is understood and ideas are ready then implement quickly and implement across the company, process, or area.
The philosophy is often used to describe a short term event usually a few days to a couple weeks, that involves quick, rapid, energized improvements.
Kaizen blitzes can be done in the office, on systems or software, and on the floor. While it is important not to measure people directly to numbers on a continuous basis, each project should have benchmark measures and strive to improve each of them throughout the event.
Before a Kaizen event is started the participants need an education of the basic Lean Manufacturing and root cause analysis principles.
There should also be a lot of hype built around an event and it should take place in the area affected with the people affected.
It can't be emphasized enough the importance of engaging those that have a direct stake in the project. Avoid computers and staying behind closed doors or with just a few from management.
Prepare a daily schedule and be a good host. Provide adequate food, supplies, and other resources so the team is equipped. This will allow them to make rapid, simple, inexpensive, trials and improvements.
Meet and report out on the day's results before adjourning. Keep everyone unified and driving aggressively toward a goal.
As a host and GB/BB, pay attention to every detail. Show the team and participants you are prepared, committed, and genuinely engaged. This sets the example you want to them to embrace throughout the event. Without it, success is already at risk.
Typical supplies for a Blitz include:
Having maintenance on stand-by is recommended depending on the event. They may be called upon to quickly fabricate, remove, or modify items for the team.
They should be available to work overnight while the team has adjourned and improvements have been identified for the next day's trials and review.
The team may need IT on stand-by to quickly generate and mine data as it becomes necessary. Most of this should be done in advance.
Management should dress down for the event and join in on the change; get involved and roll up the sleeves. Working side-by-side will serve more dividends than just achieving a metric for the event. Part of a successful event includes raising morale, walking the talk, setting an example, building relationships, and learning more about the every day activities in the workplace.
This module of slides provides additional insight into the topic of Kaizen. This is critical component of the IMPROVE phase and can quickly build momentum and make believers out of the Six Sigma program, you, and the particular project.
Click here to purchase the Kaizen module and view others that are available.
It does not require statistical approaches, complex graphs and charts, although they can be used to help quantify and find key process input variables.
Some of the most significant benefits are found in education and helping others recognize waste and non-value added steps.
Find ways to make the work area (hospital, office, factory, store, assembly line) "speak" to you and others in the company.
Apply the tactics of Visual Management, expose problems, make them visual, and discuss them. Anyone should be able to walk through an area after a Kaizen Blitz and have a good understanding of what is occurring, status, problems, and if they are winning or losing at that moment.
Often times there is an idea that is trialed on one area, machine, or form, etc. If this idea is successful, ensure to implement it across any others where it makes sense. This may take more time that you have allotted; ensure the leaders of the company are aware.
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