Kaizen, a Japanese business improvement philosophy has become ever more popular over recent years and is now utilized in many industries outside of its traditional home of manufacturing.

A Kaizen event (also commonly called a Kaizen Burst) is an intensive focused event of business process improvement typically targeting rapid results.

These rapid results can bring substantial benefits to your company by targeting effort and resources to fix a business crucial issue. For example – you may wish to focus your kaizen event at a product quality issue or excessive lead time – by launching a kaizen event you’re letting the business know that there is an issue and that there are plans to resolve it!

While Kaizen events may differ from business to business, a common approach is outlined below and often follows the DMAIC method.

1) Preparation

Typically the Kaizen Team Leader(s) will gather some data around the issue – for example where the issue is product quality the event leader may gather data about how many defects have been raised – what the issues were – where about in the production process they happened – gathering as much data and information as possible to help make appropriate decisions during the event.

2) “The Kaizen event

Dedicated resources for a period of time aligned with the seriousness and complexity of the issue (typically between 1 to 5 days). Stakeholders will devote their attention to improving the business process (note a Kaizen event will typically work with a single business issue/process). Examples may include

Cost reduction
Scrap reduction
Reduce leadtime

The event will include understanding the current process – highlighting areas of improvement – constructing a new process and deploying the process. This will often include some training for shop floor staff, metric deployment but following on from the Kaizen event a new process will be deployed.

3) Follow up

After a short period of time a review will take place to discuss performance of the new process coupled with further communications/training for staff that may not have been included in the original event. The key element regarding the follow up activity is to ensure that the new process is being used!

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