The Benefits of Kaizen and Kaizen Events

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The Benefits of Kaizen and Kaizen Events
Anthony Manos. Quality Progress. Milwaukee: Feb 2007. Vol. 40, Iss. 2; pg. 47, 2 pgs Abstract (Summary)
Kaizen is a Japanese word typically translated to "continuous improvement." The connotation of the word morphed to also include quick or fast improvements, like kaizen events, which are big improvements that are made quickly. The tools of lean, such as kaizen and kaizen events, are not necessarily rocket science. Getting people to hold a philosophy of continuous improvement can prove challenging. There are three specific benefits to performing kaizen events rather than other improvement methods. By scheduling a kaizen event, you are being proactive and setting aside time to make improvements. When people need help from other departments during a future event or activity and the people have already worked on a kaizen team, they are usually more than willing to contribute in any way possible. This attitude and outlook promote a lean culture. By seeing immediate results from a kaizen event, people will come to understand they have more control over their work areas than they think. Full Text (1564  words)|

Copyright American Society for Quality Feb 2007
Kaizen is a Japanese word typically translated to "continuous improvement." Originally this word referred to subtle, gradual improvements that are made over time. A baseball analogy is hitting singles all game long to score runs. The connotation of the word has morphed to also include quick or fast improvements, like kaizen events (also known as kaizen blitzes, quick kaizens or rapid improvement projects), which are big improvements that are made quilkly. This is analogous to hitting a homerun in baseball. Both kaizen and kaizen events produce results, like the singles and homeruns driving in runs on the baseball field. But kaizens occur far more often than kaizen events. For many organizations today, kaizen and kaizen events are viewed differently than the traditional mode of improvements.1 For example, it is very common-especially in North American organizations-to use kaizen to describe how management prioritizes huge, complex and wholesale changes with the hope that vast improvement and profits will follow. Maybe you have heard management say things like: * "If we just install the new production line, we can double output." TABLE 1 Kaizen, Kaizen Events and Traditional Improvements|

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* "We need an enterprisewide information knowledge system to solve all our inventory problems." Them traditional approaches usually don't produce the desired results. Often, organizations tend to overlook the true power of kaizen or kaizen events. They want to hit the homerun, but instead strike out. Maybe it's part of our nature to want the big, dramatic improvement instead of the simple, steady improvement. This can occur for many reasons, including a manager wanting to make his mark on an organization to the "that's the way we've always done it" attitude. See Table 1 for a summary of the differences between the two. Different Benefits

Always remember lean is easy, but getting people to change is difficult. The tools of lean, such as kaizen and kaizen events, aren't necessarily rocket science. Getting people to hold a philosophy of continuous improvement can sometimes prove challenging. Lean is not the tools. Lean is in your head and heart. It's how you approach your job, customers, suppliers and processes. Start as a lean learner, graduate to a lean achiever, which will lead you to become a lean thinker. * Lean leaner: Understand the basic concepts of lean (for example, lean 101, waste [muda], problem solving, change management, 5S and visual organization). * Lean achiever: Apply the basic concepts to your organization and continue with more complex concepts of lean (for example, cellular flow, kanban and total productive maintenance [TPM]). * Lean thinker: Naturally look at the situation from the lean perspective, moving...
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