A Kaizen Event is one of the most popular ways to rapidly improve a process and make the gains stick. Or is it?

If you are the facilitator of the Kaizen event you do your pre-event planning, you get the right people there, and the event goes off without a hitch. Good ideas were given, documented and ready to be enacted now it is time to close out the meeting and yes, pass the baton. But who do you pass the baton too?

If you look at most books, review the last section and see how in depth they go into the implementation part of the process. It is actually the only thing that counts and it is typically the shortest chapter in the book, literally.

How do you take all the good work that has been accomplished and move it into a successful implementation. It really is a matter of good project management skills, nothing more and nothing less. If you review the Ten Step Project Management Process it gives you a solid outline for project implementation:

1. Define the work
2. Build the schedule and budget
3. Manage the schedule and budget
4. Manage Issues
5. Manage Change
6. Manage Communication
7. Manage Risk
8. Manage Human Resources
9. Manage Quality
10. Manage Metrics.

However, we are talking about wanting to take a new approaches, new ideas from an event to implementation. I have become quite intrigued with Agile Project Management and feel that there are some great possibilities for using this type of approach for implementation after a Kaizen Event.

From Wikpedia: Agile methods break tasks into small increments with minimal planning, and do not directly involve long-term planning. Iterations are short time frames (” timeboxes”) typically last from one to four weeks. Each iteration involves a team working through a full software development cycle including planning, requirements analysis, design, coding, unit testing, and acceptance testing when a working product is demonstrated to stakeholders. This helps minimize overall risk, and lets the project adapt to changes quickly. Stakeholders produce documentation as required.

Agile methods generally promote a disciplined project management process that encourages frequent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability, a set of engineering best practices that allow for rapid delivery of high-quality software, and a business approach that aligns development with customer needs and company goals. Conceptual foundations of this framework are found in modern approaches to operations management and analysis, such as lean manufacturing and Six Sigma.

I discuss both of these process, because the true way to implement something new is with a project management system that you are familiar with or have a facilitator on board that is familiar with the process. Don’t leave good ideas fail because of a poor plan. If you want to change your planning process have a separate Kaizen event to install a new project management system.

Related Information:

Click here to download your free ebook!

Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products

2 thoughts on “A Kaizen Event is one of the most popular ways to rapidly improve a process and make the gains stick. Or is it?”

  1. Kaizen Events (or “Rapid Improvement Events,” as they are often called in healthcare) are notorious for the high occurrence of “backsliding” or the process degrading back into the old way of doing things. One cause of this is the lack of proper engagement during the Event process… if a new process (even assuming it’s better) is forced at people (as often happens in the rush of an Event week), then they are likely to not buy in and they might want to keep doing things the old way. Even when the new process is agreed upon widely, the best way to not fall backward is to continue improving little by little on top of the old process… incorporating daily continuous improvement on top of the Event. Additionally, not everything has to be a formal weeklong Event. Again, that’s where daily improvement comes in, for the smaller stuff.

    Mark Graban
    Co-Author “Healthcare Kaizen” (2012)
    Chief Improvement Officer, KaiNexus

Comments are closed.