TYPES OF KAIZEN
From Teaian kaizen to kaizen blitz
Kaizen is an improvement process that has evolved substantially over the years. As a result, the term Kaizen has developed to have multiple meanings. There are three types of Kaizen:
While almost all Kaizen approaches use a teamed approach, there is the method described as Teian Kaizen or personal. This is the more traditional suggestion system: Teian Kaizen refers to individual employees uncovering improvement opportunities in the course of their day-to-day activities and making suggestions.
It does not include making the change itself, but simply the suggestion for the change. This is the only part of the Kaizen culture to focus on the individual instead of a team. Even so, it does not advocate personal action to improve a process, but suggestions by individuals which will then be assessed by a team.
An example of a day-to-day Kaizen approach is Quality Circles. Here, a natural work team (people working together in the same area, operating the same work process) uses its observations about the work process to identify opportunities for improvement. During any day or perhaps at the end of the week, the team meets and selects a problem from an earlier shift to correct. They analyze its sources, generate ideas for how to eliminate it, and make the improvement. This continuous improvement of the work process is made in the context of regular worker meetings.
Although Kaizen is a Japanese concept, many U.S. firms have adopted it with considerable success by combining the best of traditional Japanese practices with the strengths of Western business practice.
Traditional Kaizen is, by definition, long term, a gradual incremental change results in small improvements throughout the organisation. A Kaizen Blitz or Kaizen Event (or as it should be called, Kaikaku) is fast and furious: it rapidly implement workcells, improves setups or streamlines processes. These methods plan ahead and then execute a process improvement over a period of days.
- Develop a vision of the future.
Having defined what is happening now a future state map is created which defines what should be happening if the world was perfect. Realistic but challenging elements are drawn out from this to create a vision for what life will be like by the end of the week. This could be done during or prior to the event.
- Involve everyone.
For a blitz to work everyone has to be involved. This may mean shutting down a line or a department for the duration of the event. Planning the event and telling the rest of the organisation is therefore critical. If this proves to be impossible, as many people as possible should be released.
- Prepare the group.
It is essential that everyone involved is trained in how to perform a blitz. There will be times during the event when people’s paradigms will be seriously tested and, without proper preparation, people will find these times very stressful.
- Plan for success.
Choosing the right target for a blitz is also critical. The event must be built for success particularly if it’s the first one. Choose something that will have a big impact on the people as well as the organisation. The blitz is not a project tool so selecting something that can be addressed in a week is a challenge. Too big and it will fail, too small and it won’t have the impact.
- Keep the kaizen training to what is actually needed for the event.
It makes absolutely zero sense to go into the details of a SMED system (Single Minute Exchange of Dies) if your event has no change-overs as an obstacle to improvement.
- Provide the kaizen training at the right time.
Many kaizen event training programs spend valuable training time the first day teaching how to complete a report out on Friday. By the time Friday rolls around, they end up teaching this portion of the training all over again because everybody has forgotten the lesson during the week.
Mention the report out on Monday morning, leaving the details for Friday morning prior to the report out. When Friday arrives, bring the team together for the quick "How-to-do-a-report-out" session and then the team goes to work without many questions.
- Properly scale the scope of the kaizen event.
How many kaizen events bring an elephant to the table for a small team of five people to try to eat in one week? Keep the scope in line with the resources at hand.
- Keep your kaizen goals simple.
Many times a kaizen event will put a long list of targets or goals on the team to accomplish, productivity, cycle time, 5-S, floor space, quality, etc. All these goals are noble and beneficial however they may leave a team running in too many directions. Pick one goal to focus your kaizen team.
- Pick the right lean tool for the job and use it well.
There are plenty of lean tools to choose for kaizen activities so your must determine the right tool and use it well.
- Buy-in, Buy-in, Buy-in.
Without buy-in of the operators in a new process, the improvements of the week will not last past the Friday report-out. It is critical to get the process owners to buy-in to the new process.
- Go to gemba and stay there the entire week.
With the exception of your Monday morning training and eating lunch, your kaizen team must remain in the kaizen area the entire week. It s important to have a meeting table, a few chairs and a flip chart placed in your kaizen area sharing information with the area (along with all those that passed by) throughout the kaizen process. Not only did this remove the muda of walking back and forth to an offsite meeting room, it also limited the team debates on the actual process. Share information on display with your kaizen newspaper for all to see. No secrets, nothing to hide. Even the daily team leader meeting and the final report out were conducted at gemba.
- Speak with data.
Hearsay or opinion have no place in a blitz. Decisions to make changes are made based on real hard data gained from the current state.