Kaizen Events, for many businesses, are an underutilised tool in the belt when it comes to making significant, impactful changes. Unlike Kaizen, Kaizen Events are less of a long-term, slow-moving programme of small change after small change, and more of a focussed, planned meeting of minds around a particular issue in an attempt to dramatically improve it. Are you using Kaizen Events in your business? Read more about how this one tool can revolutionise your organisation…
Kaizen Events – Clarity Visual Management
Unlike Kaizen, Kaizen Events are a concentrated effort, focused on a specific process or area that has a small team charged with evaluating and looking for ways to improve it. In the same way that a large Kaizen initiative can be used to gain improvement suggestions from the team over a period of time, a Kaizen Event can be an ideal opportunity to improve a particular process more dramatically and much more quickly. These types of events are also fantastic opportunities to improve the cohesion between teams as well as collaboration cross-functionally.
One important thing to consider if you’re thinking about jumping straight into a Kaizen Event is that they should be implemented with skill and care so that improvements are meaningful, can be sustained and carry the support of the whole team. Badly executed, they can be no more than an unnecessary distraction and actually hold a company back. That said, we’re not exaggerating when we say that Kaizen Events literally are the secret weapon that you can use to improve your workplace. Here at Clarity, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the world’s largest and most influential companies. During that time we’ve learned a thing or two about Kaizen Events and discovered that they often have come unexpected benefits aside from solving a difficult or urgent challenge.
In addition to solving a problem, Kaizen Events also result in:
A better understanding of defining and setting baseline metrics
Kaizen Events are only as successful as the preparation that goes into them. One key step in this process is deciding on what key performance indicators (KPI’s) will be used to ultimately define the success of the initiative. It’s also essential to determine how those KPI’s will be measured, documented and communicated. Kaizen Events tend to be more high-profile in an organisation than daily Kaizen so the choosing of KPI’s for the Event is a subject of extremely great care. Practising and refining the process of defining and setting baseline metrics is an important skill that Kaizen Events helps you practise.
Better cross-functional team collaboration
Most organisations would agree that arguably one of the greatest parts of the business to improve would be where one process joins on to another one, or where work is shifted from one team to the next team in the process. Daily Kaizen is often conducted by the individual teams who are familiar with their own processes, and Kaizen Events offer a fantastic opportunity to get multiple stakeholders from different teams around one process. Kaizen Events almost always involve more than one functional area, shift, or department and this is the best way to run these sessions. The impact of having a number of different people from a number of different departments, all working together, benefits from many different points of view and even rapidly accelerates opportunities for improvement. What’s more, each of us learns something every day as part of our daily working lives and Kaizen Events are an amazing way for the teams involved to refine their skills working with a number of different styles of problem-solving. Kaizen Events are your opportunity to establish a common, shared language between the teams involved in improvement and processes within your organisation.
Building a powerful (and expanding) bank of knowledge
The best and most successful Kaizen Events are carefully and precisely documented and add to the whole organisation’s bank of knowledge. It’s not only the team involved in the event that benefits from this knowledge but lessons can be learned and retained for each new event that takes place down the line and goes a long way in making sure that future improvement initiatives are more effective. Of course, this bank of knowledge is also ideal for getting new team members, consultants, or, well, anyone, up to speed with the process and what’s been done in the past to improve it!
Developing the future leaders of your business
For a Kaizen Event to be successful it needs a leader, someone whose mission it is to bring the team together, coordinate the event itself and make sure that that the roles of the teams are filled successfully. The Event Leader is the person who uses their skills to make the event worthwhile, as well as requesting help if any additional resources are needed or a significant roadblock is encountered. This person doesn’t need to already be in a management or in a leadership role to be successful. In fact, Kaizen Events are the ideal opportunity for those team members who aren’t managers to try their hand in the role of a leader. We’ve often found that managers are surprised by who is willing and able to step-up to the plate and lead, given the opportunity.
Empowerment and ownership of the process
It’s a proven fact that employees who are involved in documenting and improving a process tend to become more engaged and willing to own it. Kaizen Events are fantastic at empowering employees to take ownership of their processes and people who spend time thinking about improvement and who are actively involved in it are less likely to succumb to the problem of slipping back into old habits. In fact, it’s often the opposite – team members in these positions feel it’s their mission to keep improving, owning the process and actively searching out ways to make it better.
Improved procedures and documentation
Before commencing any Kaizen Event it is essential that your Standard Operating Procedures are up to date and that all members of the Kaizen Event team are familiar with them. They are the foundation from which any improvement will be made, and any changes to Standard Operating Procedure implemented as a result of the Kaizen Event must be recorded with care. Successful businesses have procedures and documents for their processes, a solid, documented understanding of your Standard Work is the essential foundation for future improvement work. Properly and carefully documented Standard Work gives the business peace of mind that a process and employee performance is measured correctly – this is also an excellent tool for bringing new team members up to speed quickly.
Visual management for Kaizen Events in your workplace
At Clarity Visual Management, we’re the first to profess the benefits of visual management as an engaging Lean tool that offers the entire business the opportunity to be engaged with performance. Kaizen Events give a process specific, focused care and attention in order to change it for the better, but where do you start your Kaizen Event programme? Visual management may hold the answer. After all, how can the team know if there’s an area deserving of care and attention if they don’t know the performance of that process? The answer is they can’t!
Visual management lets you track ‘at a glance‘ the state of work across a variety of measures. One example is our ever-popular SQDIP Board. This board shows you the how the performance has been on a particular set of areas over a monthly period, the team simply colours the boxes in to correspond to whether they hit, or missed, the target for the previous day. Let’s assume that you’re a manufacturer who hasn’t hit your quality target for 5 days in a row. There’s obviously a problem which the team work together to implement some corrective actions for and it gets quality back on track, for a few days. After another week of just about hitting the target, quality starts to slip again, there’s obviously something bigger going on here and it’s time for a Kaizen Event!
ClarityVM Consulting, making Lean work…
Here at ClarityVM Consulting, we consult with clients both far and wide about how they can use visual management to achieve their goals, exceed their targets and make financial savings which would otherwise be lost to waste. We work with our clients to create a bespoke strategy that ensures visual management is set up for success before providing specific, high-quality Lean products to sustain the visual management programme and make Lean work in the organisation long-term.
You can read more about the work we’ve undertaken with our clients by browsing through our Visual Management Case Studies.