Kaizen events are an important tool for any company that is attempting to go through a lean transformation, or simply wants to improve the way they are doing things. Lean events are typically short, intense sessions which help to quickly change the way specific things are done. When managed well, these events can have dramatic results, which greatly benefit the entire department or facility. When poorly run, however, they can be a waste of time, or actually create problems where there weren’t any before. With this in mind, it is important to look at these five things to avoid during a Kaizen event.
Failing to Define Critical Success Factors
It is impossible to plan and perform a successful Kaizen event if the critical success factors aren’t clearly defined. When people don’t know exactly what it is they need to be getting out of these sessions, they will undoubtedly get distracted and lose out on the benefits of the event. Take the time to list out these success factors and share them with anyone who is involved with the implementation of the Kaizen event.
Striving for Perfection
In the history of Kaizen there has not been one event which was perfect. At some point something always goes wrong. Whether it is with the planning, the implementation, the audience not participating or just about anything else. Accept the fact that the event won’t go perfect, and simply try to make it as good as possible. Companies which pour countless hours into perfection end up wasting this time and still ending up with an event which fall short of the goal. Accept a great, or even a good event and move on to the next step.
Lack of Follow Through
Even when a Kaizen event is completed and everything seems to have gone very well, that is not the end of the experience. It is important to follow up with the people who attended the event and ensure the things they learned are being properly implemented. Without this follow through, the entire experience will be wasted. Regular follow ups with both the management team and the front line employees will help to ensure everything which was learned, was taken to heart and is used on a regular basis.
Lack of Management Commitment
In many cases management teams are forced to allow their teams to attend Kaizen events by the executives, but they might not truly see the benefits. When this occurs they will be unlikely to encourage the implementation of what was learned at the event when everyone comes back to their normal roles. Make sure the management team is fully on board with the process, and even consider adding them to the planning team for the Kaizen event.
In the weeks or months following a Kaizen event it is important to celebrate all that has been accomplished. When possible, evaluate the way things were done before the event, and then again after. Report publically on any improvements that were made, and focus on the fact that this is a process of ongoing improvement. Without celebration of successes, many people will get discouraged and fall back into old ways of doing things.