I was intrigued by Mark Hamel, author of Kaizen Event Fieldbook: Foundation, Framework, and Standard Work for Effective Events that so much of his book is spent on Standard Work. Below is how he answered that question.
Related Podcast and Transcription: Lean Business System
Mark Hamel: I think back to when I started learning from a Lean Sensei and that was 1994, ’95. I just remember sitting at his elbow, following him everywhere, listening to everything he said, and jotting stuff down. I had a ton of notes. And I thought, “I’ve been through a few Kaizen events now, I think I know how to do this.” Right, that was really off. Then I go in the next Kaizen event with my Sensei and I’m like, “Oh, I thought that step two was this.” I found pretty quickly that it’s a lot deeper than that. There’s definitely underlying principles that you always need to maintain and sustain. There is standard work, but at the same time, it’s kind of a loose type fit, although there are some things that you definitely can’t mess up on.
So, for example, definitely your Kaizen events need to be pulled, right? You can’t just be pushing them on folks. The old tool?driven Kaizen, they have to matter and they should be tied. Like I said before, diametric analysis or A?tree or process improvement plans, or whatever, there needs to be a context there.
You need to pre-plan, easy for me to say, properly. So we talked about team selection and we talked about scope and targets and so on and so forth. We talk about logistics, communication, which people end up messing up time and time again. Just think in terms of, “Hey, the more effective people are the more intense, the more frequent, and the more personal the communication needs to be.”
One of the major things I talk about in the book from a lean leaders perspective, they should be doing the change management thing. There are some great models out there like Kotter’s model of change management that we seem to just kind of forget. Maybe because it’s so simple, we just kind of blow it off, I don’t know.
But now we get into the actual Kaizen event and we’re talking about things like kick?off meetings. We’re talking about a healthy alignment team leader meetings, plus delta analyses. Very quick things each morning to really find out what’s working well for the team and what could be improved relative to work strategy and communication and things like that.
And then there’s a kind of storyline that’s inherent in the Kaizen event itself that follows that kind of plan, do, check, act. And if we process and if we get off of it, we’re really at risk of cause jumping, of implementing unnecessary stuff. It would definitely be in the category of waste or muda. So we’re training people how to think from a plan, do, check, act perspective as well as introducing them to standardize, do, check, act.
We expect to make significant improvements at a Kaizen Event, but we’re also trying to engage and develop the workforce at the same time.
For us to kind of bastardize the process by not following standard work that we should be following in a Kaizen event, we’re teaching them incorrectly. We’re teaching them bad habits. When we try to get to that daily Kaizen type of phase in our organization, it’s going to be really hard.
There are things that we need to follow. And there are certain tools for direct observation. There’s not observation forms really, spaghetti charts, the application of effect diagrams and histograms and things like that. We’re not super prescriptive: “Here’s a checklist you’re going to do A, B, C, D, E. You’re going to do these forms for this one and this in every Kaizen event.” They’re different. Sometimes you’re going to do process mapping to get an understanding of the current reality, so on and so forth.
I really wanted people to understand what that standard work is and what it means. It also gets into things like work strategy. This book is largely written for those people in the Kaizen Promotion Office. Those people who help facilitate this process, as well as Lean leaders; they need to understand how important this is to moving up that curve from a tool driven to a system driven to a principle-driven Kaizen culture.
Lastly, is the follow?ups piece. We have to have rigor on that and if we get sloppy, we end up wasting our time, unfortunately.
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