What is Kaizen?  Taking small steps to get better each time.

Kaizen on one Whiteboard
If Kaizen means continuous improvement, then what are these events?

Some improvement is made within our own operating space and sometimes a team approach is utilized.

Kaizen Events are not magic or easy, but employs a rapid and disciplined approach using the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) or Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC) cycles.  Opportunities are strategically aligned using a Value Stream Map (Learning to See) approach.  They have a small scope and are focused on a single problem statement.  These improvement events are team oriented and lasts 3 - 5 days where the team is locked in the room until the problem is fixed.  They are fed goodies only when there is forward motion through the PDCA cycle.

The events are kicked off with encouraging words from Leadership and then the door is locked from the outside.  After a quick review of the problem statement, a look at the current state flow and some data the team begins the root cause analysis using a simple fishbone chart.  At this point there is NO(!!) judging of the potential causes (yet).

Next the team goes through the FMEA process and assigns Severity, Occurrence, and Detection to each of the potential causes from the fishbone.  After lining up the Risk Priority Number largest to smallest and make sure other potential causes are not missed, they ask the 5-Whys on the top causes.  Remember this is an office process and the root causes come in hordes.

Improvements are brainstormed and voted on by the team and then a plan is constructed to implement the good ideas.  Now would be a good time to bring the Leadership team back in to show root causes and what the team is recommending to implement.

Once you have an approved list of ideas the real work begins.  Create new or updated flows, translate those flows into standard work, and create the visual controls.  Simulate the new process and then determine how to train the employees on the new process.  If you find problems in the simulations, tweak the process.

Remember the focus is improving flow of the product through the supplier and customer hand-offs.


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  2. Thanks for the comment and suggestion John. I will continue to explore this topic further.