How to Run a Kaizen Event: Boost Efficiency with a Thorough Plan

Every successful organization aims to do more with less. Learning how to run a Kaizen event brings you one step closer to achieving that goal. After all, what quality team isn't tasked with improving results...

How to run a Kaizen event

Every successful organization aims to do more with less. Learning how to run a Kaizen event brings you one step closer to achieving that goal. After all, what quality team isn't tasked with improving results for the same (or perhaps less) effort?

Your path to increasing operational efficiency without exhausting your team requires a systematic approach to reviewing your processes. While this doesn't mean squashing all steps in your processes, there may be opportunities for you and your team to eliminate parts of your processes which don't add value.

Running a Kaizen event for a key business process brings your team together and dedicates time to identify inefficiencies. Whether you're new to Kaizen or you're a Six Sigma Black Belt Master, a thorough plan will help you get the most value. Let’s look at the seven key steps to running your own Kaizen workshop and the mistakes to avoid.

1) Pick a Process

Start by selecting a business process - not just a procedure or policy. The more specific you can be, the better. For example, consider your new customer onboarding, manufacturing, or procurement process. By choosing a well-defined process, you can focus your efforts and make a significant impact.

2) Prepare for Success

Before the event, spend time putting together a slide pack to provide context and keep everyone focused. Here are some tips to consider when planning your Kaizen workshop:

  • Keep the language simple and straightforward.
  • Avoid ambiguity and clearly communicate expectations.
  • Emphasize that the event is an open, challenging, and supportive environment.
  • Use graphics to illustrate the process and help participants visualize improvements.

3) Map everyone involved in the value chain

On the day of the Kaizen event, after introducing what Kaizen is and explaining the context, the first task is to get everyone in the group to identify all stakeholders associated with the process. This includes customers, internal teams, regulators, certification bodies, shareholders, and suppliers. By mapping out all stakeholders, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the process and its impact.

4) Understand the Situation

Now, it's time to map out all the steps and dependencies of the current process. Encourage your team to view the process from different perspectives and question whether each step adds value. Remember that not all value is equal, and some "waste" (non-value added) is essential, such as regulatory or legislative requirements. By identifying and eliminating wasteful steps, you can streamline the process and improve efficiency.

5) Prioritize Information

Once you understand the current state of the process, it's essential to prioritize solutions and refine your designs. Prioritizing information is crucial for building a robust, efficient, and lean process. Consider the following questions:

  • What information is a priority?
  • What would the process look like in an ideal state?
  • Does it meet all the objectives?

Remember that not all value is equal, so focus on prioritizing the most valuable aspects of the process.

6) Develop the Future State

Now it's time to simulate the new process and challenge your team to explain its feasibility. Consider the following questions:

  • Is the new process logical and practical?
  • Can we recognize the improvements to key value and waste?
  • What training is needed for the future state?
  • Is the value visible to all stakeholders?

By thoroughly developing the future state, you can ensure that the proposed improvements are realistic and beneficial.

7) Avoid Common Mistakes

To make the most of your Kaizen event, it's important to avoid common mistakes. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Not allowing enough time to complete the process (1-2 days is optimum).
  • Going out of scope - focus on a core process and keep everyone on track.
  • Engaging the team with the bigger picture (why) at the start of the process.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can ensure a successful Kaizen event and drive continuous improvement within your organization.

Kaizen Mistakes to Avoid Image Source: How to run a Kaizen event

Now that you know how to run a Kaizen event, it's time to put your knowledge into action. Implement these seven steps and avoid common mistakes to boost efficiency and drive continual improvement in your organization.