Conditions for Success in Kaizen
Kaizen will thrive in the right organizational environment. This environment can be created, fostered and maintained if:
- The executive leadership adopts kaizen principles as the organization's objectives and requires all departments to cooperate in achieving them.
- A Kaizen Promotion Office is established that is directly responsible to the executive leadership for kaizen implementation, and that will grow in staffing to approximately 5% of the total of the number of employees in the organization.
- Kaizen activities (workshops, team activities, management on-site supervision, etc.) are frequent and regular.
- Participation in kaizen is rewarded and leads to job security.
In circumstances other than the above, limited or equivocal commitment to kaizen may lead some short-term benefits, but profitable operations in today's global marketplace will not be achieved.
Kaizen means making things better. "Better" means working more effectively with fewer "no pays" through:
- Just in Time,
- Quality in Station, and
- Production Leveling.
Is your process getting "better?" Look for the following:
- Takt — Do you know how long you have to finish 1 product?
- Standardized Work — Do you define the time, the procedure, and the in-process stock for every job?
- 1 Piece Flow — Do you make 1 piece at a time, or do you see batches of work in process on your line?
- No Re-work — Is re-work so rare that it stops the line and draws immediate attention or do you allow re-work as part of the normal procedure?
- Instant Set-up Changes — Is your line ready for a change of product in minutes or less?
- Manning Flexibility — Can you change the number of operators on your line when the demand goes up or down, or must the line always have the same number of operators?
- Pull and Replenish — Do you "pull" materials on an as need basis, or do you schedule supply and end up with too much of one thing and not enough of another?
There are other considerations, but if your process does not have the above capabilities it is not competitive or resilient in today's global marketplace. It's time to run a Kaizen Workshop!
Click here for a presentation of the highlights of a Kaizen Workshop lead by Fred Harriman
I use the workshop approach that I have learned over many years of interpreting for Japanese consultants who pioneered in the application of Kaizen outside of Toyota. The Kaizen Workshop helps everyone, whether it is applied in a small scale operation, or in a multi-billion dollar project.
Before the workshop, a diagnosis is made of the operation. Is there an awareness of the takt on the line? Does each operator have Standardized Work posted in view? It there batching going on? Lack of Quality Assurance? etc. Any shortcoming with respect to Just in Time, Quality in Station, or Production Leveling is studied. The worst problems are identified and the goals of a workshop are defined using the "Target Progress Report" (see RESOURCES - Kaizen Tools on this web site). A team or teams are formed for each focus area (GENBA) with a team leader and co-leader. About 7 to 15 people are an appropriate number of team members, and they should include operators from the focus area, the supervisor of the area, and any subject matter experts (including possible participation of suppliers and other outside resources).
Kick-off: All team members gather in the early morning, Management and the Consultant are present. The Target Progress Report and supporting data is explained by each team leader in 5 to 10 minute presentations. Comments from the Consultant and Management are made and the teams begin their activities. Emphasis is on going to the floor (GENBA), and limiting time in meeting rooms and in discussion.
Leader Meeting: The team leaders and co-leaders and any other people who might benefit from attendance gather to present to their Management: 1) The Target progress Report, 2) What was done today, and 3) What will be done tomorrow (as shown on the Kaizen Newspaper, see RESOURCES - Kaizen Tools on this web site).
TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY
There is no kick-off meeting, but the Leader's Meeting is held and the end of both days. By Wednesday, the teams should have already tested their proposed solutions, and if moving large equipment is involved, riggers and other support should be ready to help beginning Wednesday morning.
The Leader's Meeting at the end of the day is replaced by a "walk through" of the areas that have been improved by the teams. This is for the benefit of Management and others. The changes do not have to be complete, but the idea is to show how the changes are supposed to work.
Preparation and Execution of the Final Presentation. Each team is given no more than 15 minutes each to present their progress and results for the week's activities, as well as the items that have still to be completed. With every successful workshop systems are created or improved and these systems will require continued attention. Kaizen is a culture, not just a visit by a consultant.
If your organization would like to know more about Kaizen and how it's practiced before you make the commitment to plan and execute workshops and go through the cultural and organization changes that Kaizen requires, it is possible to arrange a day or two of training in which the basics of kaizen and its implementation are explained and demonstrated. It is recommended that this training session be held in the facility where Kaizen in being considered.