What is a Kaizen Event and Why Is It Important?

Kaizen is the philosophy of continuous improvement that can take place in pretty much any area of our lives. Companies use it because it helps to improve the way they operate, allowing every individual to take small steps towards better results. It is a philosophy that aims to include every single member of an organization, otherwise, it would hardly work.

David Kiger knows that a good way for companies to motivate their members to be part of this philosophy is by inviting them to a Kaizen Event. Many CEOs are reluctant to do this because it usually involves team members to stay away from their duties for three to five days. However, the impact this type of event has on companies often affects the further performance of any given company.

Implementing Kaizen is a process in itself, for this reason, it is better when every member of the organization is able to be part of it from the beginning. Sharing a common language, goals, and motivation can really make the difference. This is an idea that should be kept in mind when creating a Kaizen event.

What is a Kaizen Event

A Kaizen Event, as it name says it, is an event that lasts from three to five days, in which every member of any given organization is introduced to the Kaizen philosophy. This introduction is focused on the particular needs of the company and aims to work closely with the current circumstances of the team.

During a Kaizen event, a series of projects are assigned to different individuals in order to motivate their participation, evaluate and help them improve their performance. Though participation helps people realizing where they need to implement changes, it never leads to permanent improvement. This is also part of Kaizen since its main goal is to give enough tools for people to know in which areas they need to improve, working on them every day.

Participating in a Kaizen Event

In real life, may CEOs and company owners believe that holding or participating in a Kaizen event is a waste of time.  This idea is possible thanks, obvious reasons: the event takes up to five days to be held and there are no guaranteed results.

Nevertheless, this “loss of time” is generally worth it, since it will provide teams with the necessary tools to become a better version of themselves. After a Kaizen event, teams are very likely to increase their productivity, addressing their day-to-day issues, offering solutions and taking one step at the time towards improvement.

Kaizen events are meant to teach people how to become more productive. They are no miracle performers. However, when taken seriously, they do have a great impact on the company members’ mindset.

Activities

During a Kaizen event, most common activities that take place are listed below:

1- Defining the problems and goals: This is how every event shall start. Companies need to know how their team member feel like and where they are able to identify the most important problems that need to be solved. This is the best way to define which are going to be the final goals of the process.

2- Current State Documentation: To address the company’s problems, it is important to define which is its current state and document that data.

3- Brainstorming: After documenting the required information, team members need to offer potential solutions to those issues that need to be addressed.

pen-idea-bulb-paper_kaizen event_brainstorming
Image courtesy of Tookapic at Pexels.com

4- Implementation: Once solutions have been proposed and agreed upon, the following step requires the team to implement them.

5- Follow-up Plan: The outcome of this process needs to be tracked, this is why a follow-up plan is so important and also needs to be proposed.

6- Presenting results: results need to be measurable and presentable.

7- Encouraging further improvement: Results need to be celebrated when positive, this will keep individuals motivated.

It is important to notice that not every Kaizen event works in the same way. However, the tools most of them use are very similar. The outcome is also similar since all these events want to motivate company members to enter the Kaizen culture and embrace it as their new working philosophy.

Also, it is very important to consider that Kaizen events cannot solve a company’s problems, especially when they are deeply rooted in their working culture. For this, it is important to reinforce Kaizen with tools from other strategies such as Six Sigma, or Just in Time Production. If the improvement that needs to take place is directly related to the way products are manufactured and the logistics related to that, these two strategies will also help.

After a Kaizen event, it is important to hold a periodical meeting with all the team members to evaluate how they are doing and where they believe improvement can still take place. Knowing the most relevant problems, even those that show up every once in a while is a great way to regularly work on a company’s improvement.

* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

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