Lean or Kaizen Events are focussed business improvement events (typically of a short duration for example a week) that focus on a particular business problem and endeavour train staff to rapidly ascertain the required fix, implement it, develop a plan to maintain the fix following the event and then monitor and celebrate the success.

But with that comes pressure. For a Lean event to act as a means of persuading people that Lean events are a viable way forward it has to be successful and for that to happen there is one fundamental issue to be given prominence and that is planning: planning how the event will happen, who will make it happen, when it will happen, how many resources or people will be needed to make it happen.

Then there is the absolutely vital element of planning what the Lean event will achieve.

Lean Is Planning

Often people think about Lean as the elimination of waste and improved business efficiency, but there is more to Lean than this. It is also about planning, about making sure that every aspect of the business is known, planned out and that it actually happens. There is no trusting to fate: Lean takes control!

One of the significant issues for Kaizen events is that it takes people away from their workplace for 3-4 days of time – in many organizations this can result in a lack of participation and the event gets diluted to a small project with only 1 -2 individuals support.

However a properly planned and executed event will recover the time spent by the individuals in improvements and the actual roles should become easier and more productive.

So all aspects of a Lean event need to be planned, with particular emphasis on the outcomes, on what the event manages to achieve.

One of the most common failures for Lean events is that the goals that were set were unclear, vague, not communicated well and so on. The only way to prevent this from occurring is to set clear goals that everyone is agreed on and familiar with and then make sure that they happen.

Goals Are the Yardstick of Success

If clear goals are not set, then how do you know what you achieved? It is almost impossible to measure success if there is nothing to measure it against. Without demonstrable proof that the event has achieved its goals or even surpassed them, there is no reason to assume that Lean is the way forward. After all, there is no evidence to support it!

Goals Are Your Shared Aims

The goals that you set need to be communicated to the team members so that you can all be absolutely clear about what is happening. Communication is king and without that sharing of aims it will not be possible to run a successful Lean event. All team members have share the desire to achieve the same goals or else there is no Lean event taking place, there are only a group of disparate individuals working in a fragmented fashion. Therein lies a recipe for disaster and the event not being successful.

So planning agreed and clear goals for any Lean event, no matter how big, small or complex it may be, is an absolute must. Lean centres on continuous improvement, but only when you know how you met your goals in the past, can you set about improving on that performance. Moreover, you also have to be sure that the event actually triggered some kind of positive outcome; if you don’t set that goal beforehand, then the whole exercise is pointless, so plan, plan, plan and that means plan your goals and set clear goals as well!

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