Have you been thinking of trying your hand at a kaizen event? If so, take the time to do it right. Kaizen can be extremely beneficial and yield surprising results when done with passion. Many people assume that kaizen events need to be planned right down to every last detail, in fact some kaizen events even feature the use of special T-shirts embellished with motivational kaizen lingo to boost employee morale. This is all fine and dandy but not totally necessary.
The unfortunate fact is that many people shy away from kaizen events in the fear that they will either be too time consuming or be too difficult to organize. This is simply not true. Even though it seems that the large, highly planned events get the most attention for success, success can also be made through smaller events that are less planned and less organized. Just as some people are natural born planners, others are naturally born spontaneous thinkers.
There really isn’t a right or wrong and the same can go with a kaizen event. When you really get into the meat of a kaizen event, what is the overall goal? IMPROVEMENT!
Do you have to be Lean to Embrace Kaizen?
The simple answer is no. You do not have to be a fully lean company to embrace kaizen. However, it is helpful since both philosophies are so closely aligned. Lean manufacturing is all about eliminating waste. Whether it is about eliminating wasted time, wasted money, wasted resources, etc., the goal of lean manufacturing is to eliminate any waste to enjoy greater levels of productivity.
Similarly, Kaizen mainly focuses on improvement which could also be looked at as eliminating unneeded wastes or processes. Kaizen is a Japanese word that translates to the meaning “good change.” Kaizen events and endeavors should aim to yield good changes which can positively impact the business as a whole. In fact, after participating in a kaizen event, it may just open the doors towards a further interest in implementing lean practices.
Seeking Improvement with Kaizen
Since the goal of kaizen is to make changes towards improvement, make sure the right and most beneficial changes are implemented. Don’t start on processes that are currently working well without flaw, instead seek out processes or practices that are in need tweaking and attention.
If you are attempting your hand at kaizen, and looking to take the more systematic approach there are tons of valuable resources online to help you start the journey. However, it is easy to become overwhelmed with ideas and lose motivation and interest.
The key is to only bite off as much as you can chew. Start very small, the truth is that small steps eventually lead to big changes.
Kaizen doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t have to have a fully lean company to try it. Take a bit of time to research the basics of kaizen and how it could positively impact your business. When you are motived and put the needed components together, anything is possible.