Kaizen is a Japanese term often used to note continuous improvement where “Kai” means to “take apart or change” and “zen” means to “make good”.

A Kaizen event is used as a part of the Lean Process Improvement Methodology.  The event is typically a 3 to 5 day intense session of cross functional team members coming together to apply “lean” tools in a specific area with-in a certain time period. The goal of the event is to improve an area quickly by eliminating waste and non-value added work.

One key to a successful Kaizen event is to ensure all participants have the scope and authority to make changes in the process that is being evaluated in the timeline that is specified. In addition, planning and follow-up to a Kaizen event is just as important as the event itself. Most organizations will use a Kaizen event on an area that needs urgent and immediate improvements that have significant impact on key performance metrics (i.e. cost, revenue, productivity). Kaizen events have been popular in manufacturing for years but have been used most recently in the service industry with a huge push in healthcare sector.

Typical Kaizen Event Process:

Planning Phase – identify the problem and select a target area for improvement; develop a project charter and identify a cross functional team; communicate to impacted workers; select someone familiar with lean methodology to facilitate the Kaizen event; gather and analyze detailed process maps or value stream mapping; analyze performance metrics ahead of the event

Kaizen Event – ensure the team is trained on lean concepts; use the appropriate lean tools during the scheduled event timeframe; develop and select solutions

  • Example “Lean” tools that can be used during a Kaizen event includes (but not limited to) 5S, 5Whys, Fishbone, Pareto Charts, mistake-proofing, and leveling

Follow-up Phase – continue to implement ideas and monitor results; developed and communicate status reports for continuous process improvements

Branner Consulting, LLC can help you at any stage along your journey from process documentation to implementing process improvement projects. We also provide coaching and training in Six Sigma and Lean methodologies.