With a bias toward action, this group activity is meant to make rapid change. This is a very focused and finite attack on a particular problem or opportunity for improvement.
A key aspect of the Kaizen is that it should be a cross-functional team incorporating content experts and new “Fresh eyes”. Using effective tools to plan and manage the event, the team establishes the objectives and pursues their completion in 2-5 days.
Frequently a target that was identified from Value Stream Mapping, Kaizen should have direct impact to the value stream and be supported by the organization.
Often, organizations have projects that are led by individuals that drag on through continued deadline changes. In many cases that individual could benefit from using a Kaizen team to complete the goals within a few days.
There are many topics and tools to be managed as a Kaizen, like SMED, Kanban, Cellular, etc. Preparation and good facilitation are critical.
This does require some bandwidth from other parts of the company because teams can have up to 5-10 employees. It can range anywhere from your expert operators, supervisors, advisors, managers, and executives. These small incremental changes are the foundation for continuous improvement and the stepping-stones to overall efficiency.
Kaizen is also a good way to build a team in which the players would normally not be on the same working together. An example like an administrative desk clerk would be brought in on the shop floor to help run one of the kaizen teams. This employee may have very little manufacturing experience, but the process of the kaizen allows for that. These “fresh eyes” from other departments now know the pains and struggles an operator goes through on an everyday basis. After the event there is now a closer understanding of what ACTUALLY happens versus what was “supposed” to happen. This is a great tool for bridging the gap between the “shop floor and upstairs office battle” we all know and love.