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How to: Create an Effective Kaizen Event

Posted by Ellen McKewen

As a business, it’s common to hear three-word mantras like “Sell, Sell, Sell!” or “Location, Location, Location!” But what about the quality of your team? Shouldn’t their production and output also be taken into account?

That’s why here at CMTC, we put “location” and “selling” to the side, and hone in on what’s truly significant: improvment, improvement, improvement. Whether it’s individual performance or company growth, improvement is at the cornerstone of every thriving business.

Kaizen refers to the business philosophy of continuously improving the way your company works.

Also important is the ability to be transparent with your team. Even if your workplace is divided by cubicles and offices, there’s no reason why every team member can’t collaborate on improving the way you do business.

Using the effective lean approach to your business, organizing a kaizen event will streamline companywide enhancements with strategic goals, data analysis and a team-oriented method to addressing issues.

What Is a Kaizen Event?

From the Japanese word for “change for the better,” kaizen is a three-to-five day long business practice that focuses on constantly improving work processes and eliminating waste. Now, you may be thinking: isn’t this just a basic work meeting?

Not at all! Kaizen events go beyond a basic rundown of diminishing sales or new company policies. These events take planning and requires the whole team to contribute. It involves laying out areas of improvement, collecting data, analyzing customer satisfaction and developing plans for the future.

Planning a Kaizen Event

Like with most things in business, preparation will dictate the effectiveness of the meeting. Assign a responsible leader to coordinate the event to ensure that the event reaches its maximum potential.

Collect ALL the Necessary Facts

When you find an area that needs improvement, jot it down with quantifiable evidence to share with your teammates. Don’t sugarcoat anything. Using real numbers will lead to real results.

Urge Participation

This one is especially tough if you’re in an industry of introverts. Nonetheless, your team can unite around the same mission of optimizing workplace operations. There are some issues that higher-ups can’t see.

And this is why it’s crucial to give EACH employee the platform to speak. Their participation and contribution are immeasurable and works toward a well-rounded session for the team.

A kaizen event fulfills lean manufacturing by finding ways to reduce waste and optimize output.

Write, Plan & Address GOALS

With the data that you have on hand, make projections for each department that focuses on hardcore numbers. Ask yourself and the team how to improve. What NEW ideas could be implemented? What cost can we cut out of the budget entirely? Where may we need to spend more?

As a note for first-time kaizen-ers: don’t worry about taking employees away from their work. (Of course, if you have a set deadline for a delivery, don’t sacrifice your customer satisfaction!) Yes, their productivity is important, but creating a stellar atmosphere for their productivity to flourish is even more significant.

Listen to the Customers

And of course, you can’t forget for whom you do all of this work! Print out emails from happy, angry or confused customers and read them aloud. Understanding their needs and concerns goes a long way in creating the perfect product that fulfills their needs.

Post-Kaizen Tips

Don’t let the meeting stop here. After your few days of analyzing and brainstorming, keep tabs on your list of improvements by scheduling a monthly meeting.

When members of your team go above and beyond expectations, then they should be rewarded! Implement a program with your HR department to recognize employees who work hard. This will serve as an incentive that will hopefully inspire others to do the same.

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Topics: Kaizen, Lean Manufacturing, Continuous Improvement, Business Management, Human Resources

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