When discussing Kaizen with many manufacturing managers they will report that they tried it, but it didn’t work for their company. In virtually every case like this the problem isn’t with the Kaizen strategies themselves, but with the way the company attempted to implement them. Many Kaizen events require several days of dedicated work by those in the project in which management sometime finds it to be a waste of time. In addition, management doesn’t like to take their key employees from their dedicated work stations and take the chance of losing productivity. Therefore, management attempts to have the project implemented without the required training and development time. Of course, it should come as no surprise that the initiative is then considered a failure.
Kaizen teams are an essential part of any project because they can help guide the company through a specific event, while also working to maintain progress in between events. Members of a Kaizen team should be encouraged to continue to develop their knowledge of the Kaizen strategies and help in any way they can with all Kaizen events.
Kaizen events or projects are typically chosen to be fairly short in terms of how long they take to implement, but they should also address one specific area completely. These types of events require planning and training to be provided to everyone that is involved in the project, and that is often where the Kaizen teams can be most effective.
When the event is planned properly ahead of time, it is easier to see how the end result will be beneficial, and it will provide far more payoff than the small cost in terms of the time it takes to implement. Once the Kaizen event has been completed, the team must work to maintain the gains they have made through the event. This is one of the most important tasks which the Kaizen team will be responsible for because if the benefits of an event are quickly lost in the first month or two, then all the work that was done up to this point was worthless.
Choosing a Kaizen Team
Depending on the size of your facility and the types of initiatives a company is taking on, a Kaizen team can be chosen in a variety of ways. For large facilities with sufficient budgets, a team can be lead by a full time Kaizen expert. This is obviously ideal since they can train others properly and keep everyone focused on the proper implementation of all Kaizen events.
If a facility does not have the budget to hire a full time Kaizen expert, they can choose a consulting firm who already shows an interest in this area and have them serve as both the team leader and support system. In addition, consultants can train the other individuals on the team so that these individuals can help lead any Kaizen events in the future.
Beyond the Kaizen team leader the rest of the team should be chosen from groups throughout the facility. It shouldn’t be strictly made up of members of the management team, or from one area of the facility. Spreading out the membership will help ensure all projects are well thought out from a diverse set of views.