How are Kaizen Events Done?

Kaizen is a business philosophy focused on the idea of achieving significant improvements by making small, incremental changes to processes, products or services. Kaizen revolves around the idea of creating continuous improvement. Kaizen events or kaizen studies are a way to focus on how an existing and inefficient process can be improved. In this blog post, we talked about the features of Kaizen and Kaizen events applications.

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement in operational processes, but advocates making these improvements through small, incremental changes. It advocates that employees at all levels of the business proactively participate in regular and incremental improvements and share their ideas.

Small changes in kaizen include just-in-time production, quality control, efficient use of equipment and elimination of waste. Small improvements made on these factors create big impacts over time.

Briefly, the basis of Kaizen is as follows:

  • Good processes create good results.
  • Improvements should consist of small changes.
  • Improvements should be measurable, standardized and repeatable.
  • Employees should be empowered and participate in Kaizen.

What is Kaizen Event?

Kaizen activity, known as Kaizen attacks, focuses on ensuring that the process operates correctly and efficiently by bringing together all front-line employees and management to improve a specific operational process.

Kaizen events are guided by a facilitator. The facilitator brings the team together to work on improvement by considering a specific process. The team comes together to brainstorm on issues such as mapping the current process, eliminating problems, reducing waste, and streamlining the flow. After this exchange of ideas, the ideas that will provide improvement are implemented.

When Should a Kaizen Event Be Held?

In creating a Kaizen culture, it is mandatory for every employee of a business to apply Kaizen principles consistently in daily processes. However, planned Kaizen studies are needed to effectively address and solve more important challenges. Kaizen events help solve the root causes of problems before they escalate.

The main reasons why a business should organize a Kaizen event are as follows:

  • Addressing a critical issue that poses a threat to the business and requires a quick solution
  • Recognizing and correcting the underlying causes of problems that prevent daily improvement cycles from delivering the desired results
  • Overcoming cross-functional challenges such as improving workflow between teams and incorporating both upstream and downstream events into the production value stream

Benefits of Organizing a Kaizen Event

  • It enables improvements in daily business processes.
  • Kaizen activity is an activity aimed at teamwork. It enables teams to listen to each other and exchange ideas. This improves collaboration, communication skills and problem-solving ability among employees.
  • Activities develop employees' sense of ownership over their work, as they give them responsibilities such as identifying problems and sharing improvement suggestions. This increases employee motivation and productivity.
  • Kaizen events are a way to create a strong culture of continuous improvement because they help put Kaizen principles into practice.

How to Implement Kaizen Event?

It is necessary to make preliminary preparations before the Kaizen event. In this preliminary preparation, the purpose of the kaizen activity, the targeted process, the people who need to participate in the activity and the expected result of the activity are determined. Afterwards, important steps need to be taken to plan the kaizen work. These steps are as follows:

  • Appointment of a Facilitator

The facilitator should be someone who is trained in lean manufacturing and techniques, is willing to create positive change, and has the ability to motivate the team throughout the process. You can train a team leader for the facilitator role or get support from a consultant.

  • Role of Leadership

In the success of Kaizen initiatives, it is very important for leaders to be aware that Kaizen efforts will provide many benefits to the business. The leader's commitment and support to the process also positively affects the approach and participation of the employees.

  • Determining the Scope of the Activity

Define a precise scope for the Kaizen event and focus primarily on a specific area or process characterized by inefficiencies that directly impact customer value. You can narrow this focus through a comprehensive review of key performance indicators (KPIs), root cause analysis, and various Lean tools.

  • Bringing the Team Together

The team to be established in the Kaizen event should consist of 6 or 10 people and should be selected strategically. Team members who will participate in the Kaizen event must have certain characteristics. These features are as follows:

- Team members should be regularly doing the work related to the process planned to be improved,

-Employees from different departments who can contribute to the process that needs to be improved should be selected,

-People who provide input and output to the current process should be included,

  • Outlining the Event Program

You should develop a program that outlines the intended results of the Kaizen event and communicate these goals to team members. The program should include sequential steps to be performed each day throughout the event.

Distribution of Kaizen Event by Days

The following steps should be followed in a five-day Kaizen event:

  • Day 1

Provide team members with training on Lean Manufacturing. After training, identify areas of waste in a process with the team and collect data.

  • Day 2

Brainstorm to find the root causes of inefficiencies and develop solutions. Identify the improvement idea to be implemented from the emerging ideas and develop a plan.

  • Day 3

Implement the developed improvement plan.

  • Day 4

Test how the plan improves. Measure the results of improvement efforts and make necessary corrections.

  • Day 5

Communicate to management the effects of improvements made and celebrate the success of the work completed.

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