A Kaizen event (also sometimes called a Kaizen blitz) is a focused short-term project to kick off process improvement; and is used to pull all the “right” people together for a short time period (typically, a week), in order to identify the current process, including wastes or muda, and then re-design the future process that eliminates or minimizes the wastes.

A Kaizen event is held when there is a critical problem that needs fixing, as it requires more concentrated resources than typical individual Kaizen implementations.

In order to have success for a Kaizen event, here are some helpful tips:
  1. Invite the ‘right’ employees to participate in the event
    • a committed sponsor/champion
    • a strong leader
    • a strong facilitator
    • those who know the process well (operator, engineer, manager, etc.)
    • those who can contribute to the success (inputs, outputs, support personnel, metrics guy/gal, etc.)
  2. Support the employee doing the work.  They know the process best, and can be helpful in identifying areas for improvement.
  3. Set aside all other workloads
    • Some organizations go to a different building, or offsite, to help employees focus on the event.
  4. Do your pre-planning
    • have all supplies on hand; handouts ready; including any snacks, treats, or gifts.
    • have all training identified and queued on a USB drive in order.
    • ensure the Kaizen charter is completed and the Champion(s) and Leader(s) have signed off on it.  Consider circulating this to the team ahead of time so everyone is familiar with the scope and boundaries.
    • have as much data as possible gathered ahead of time – process time, defect levels, WIP levels, cycle time, queue time, changeover times/frequency
  5. All enough time for employees to think and reflect
    • This is why a Kaizen event or blitz take 5 days – although some groups compress it into 4 days.  You accomplish more in 5 eight hour days than you do in 4 ten hour days…
  6. Have mini-celebrations ready when milestones are reached
    • We have a dance break, or a sweet treat, or something silly like juggling lessons or whistling lessons!
  7. Document the process every day – in notes, in photographs, etc – to show what is being accomplished each day.

By following these 7 tips, your Kaizen event will run more smoothly and be more effective.