How to Plan Your Own Kaizen Event?
Like team building, a Kaizen event is aimed at gathering internal teams to work on a common objective. Nonetheless, while team building is focused on relationships, Kaizen capitalizes on continuous process improvement. It is all about creating more value out of existing processes and lesser production waste.
A Kaizen event is essential if you are faced with an issue requiring urgent action, as it will have a huge impact on production delivery. Nonetheless, implementing this event needs a very high level of involvement, collaboration, and strong management support. It requires the presence of everyone involved in the issue – from operators and process supervisors, among others. It can appear to them like waste of time, as they will be asked to be away from work for three to five days. They will be advised to examine existing processes, determine issues and work towards improvement. Buy-ins will be solicited from all parties involved in the process.
If the process to be developed calls for assessment, the Kaizen event should be organized in such a way that all factors that can affect decision making will be considered. These would include, among others, assessment triggers, development of an assessment tool, and creating a standard process for follow-throughs. It is imperative that all people who are part of the process are present as they, more than anyone else, are the ones who understand the flow and why improvement is needed.
The Progressive Framework
A Kaizen event goes through six progressive stages towards continuous development: (1) assembling the team, (2) determining the problem, (3) examining the system, (4) laying down and testing solutions, (5) implementing and sustaining solutions, and (6) spreading improvement.
Getting the right people into the event can help streamline team efforts to enhance productivity and waste less resources. The problem, meanwhile, provides a point of reference in the conduct of the event. Employees develop appropriate tools to address the problem, and such tools will be subjected to testing. Once finalized, the facilitator must ensure that everyone in the team understands the proposed tools and the new process.
Tips to Facilitate a Kaizen Event
While conducting the event is daunting and mentally demanding, the whole experience will prove to be fulfilling in the end. Here are tips to help you effectively conduct one:
- Look for a possible sponsor who will be responsible for the execution of the event. Ideally, he or she should be a Kaizen believer, empowered and determined to make the event a success.
- Involve participants before, during and after the process so they would feel collectively accountable for their inputs (like data). They will be able to participate more effectively if they feel part of the entire process.
- Stick to the core group who would be directly affected by the process improvement, but if there is enough resources, you can invite cross-departmental representatives. This will make dissemination of results faster, which also means faster resolution and implementation.
- Ensure active participation among employees. This is a top priority as everyone is expected to contribute in the formulation of process improvement solutions. You should see to it that they all carry out their given tasks and assignments during the Kaizen event.
- Encourage collaboration. Everyone should be able to voice out his or her thoughts and opinions on the proposed design. Provide notepads or post-its so they can easily write their ideas in time for later discussions.
- Make everyone engaged using icebreakers. Keep the discussion as exciting as possible, and when you get stuck in one point, do a recap. Make them reflect on the previous discussions and confirm their understanding.