Are you running numerous Kaizen Events, should you be?

This weeks Business901 podcast, will feature Karen Martin the co-author of  The Kaizen Event Planner: Achieving Rapid Improvement in Office, Service and Technical Environments as a quick introduction to my Kaizen week I thought I would start out with one of the first questions I asked Karen in the interview: Kaizen Event Planner

Joe:  So when you say that they run numerous Kaizen Events or actually, I noticed one thing on your website where you say a typical organization of a hundred people, only have four Kaizen Events a year. So, a Kaizen Event is different than a continuous improvement process or your weekly meeting for continuous improvement process. What is the difference?

Karen:  Yes. Good question. So, Kaizen Events are this formalized, structured approach to making rapid improvement, whereas, really, what the goal is of any organization is to develop a Kaizen culture. In the Kaizen culture, improvement happens continuously. It happens without the need for those formalized process that involves a tremendous amount of planning, and really, quite a bit of effort. In fact, Kaizen Events can be quite painful for an organization because of the number of people they have to pull off their regular jobs and sequester them for two to five days. They’re really only reserved for the most intense types of improvements that need to be made.

What some organizations do, and one of the criticisms of Kaizen Events, is that they’ll get hooked on Kaizen Events and only make improvement during a formal event. That’s not at all the intention of a Kaizen Event. So, I view them as a good way to indoctrinate an organization into the improvement process and teach the skills.

In fact, you’ll hear Kaizen Events referred to as Kaizen Workshops and Kaizen Blitz. The workshop term reflects the deep learning that occurs in a Kaizen that if it’s well facilitated. So, it is true that there’s a risk that organizations can become dependent on Kaizen Events and use them for all?improvement and never really evolve into that Kaizen culture.

But, I do believe that it’s a very good first step. Often, for many, many years, I think, non?manufacturing organizations, in particular, can benefit from Kaizen Events. This is to get the culture embedded into the DNA of the organization, this whole concept of continuous improvement.

In the podcast, Karen goes into much depth in White Collar Kaizen. I think you will enjoy it. I found it very interesting that she points out that in the beginning of implementing a continuous improvement  culture that you need to have well structured events. I think it holds very true for Inbound Marketing. This concept is still foreign to most and they struggle with that concept. I wondered if it was going to become “mainstream” and by the looks of the decreasing effectiveness of outbound marking tactics, it is probably going to win by default.

Social Media Slant: I find the need for these types of events in the new wave of marketing, Social Media. I seldom see the necessary steps taken to instill a solid foundation before organizations are off blogging, twittering, etc. Spending time watching and listening seems downright silly to most. A well found strategy for social media is very apparent to the more seasoned social media player. The reason, I believe it is that the majority of the “Seasoned Players” already know how much time they have wasted getting up to speed (joke, but a lot of truth in it). I have been encouraging my clients to take several 10 minute Twitter breaks in lieu of the standard coffee break, just to get the flavor of that form of social media. I think Social Media will become embedded in the culture and conversations of most companies in the not to distant future. Holding a few Kaizen Events might not hurt. Learn more about it this week!

Related Blog Posts:

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

A Preview to Kaizen Week