Learning Lean Kaizen

As much as Leader Standard Work is the organizational structure to develop and sustain a Lean Organization, Kaizen is the underlying culture. I recommend reading or re-reading Chapters 1, 2 and 8 through 10 in The Toyota Way Fieldbook. I believe this will provide a bridge between Leader Standard Work and this next session on Kaizen.

In a podcast with the authors of Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements, I asked co-author Mark Graban…

Joe: Does the book introduce Kaizen at a pretty basic level for everybody to understand?

Mark: It really does. We say it’s change, but the word “Kaizen,” if you break it down into its two Japanese root words, “kai” means change and “zen” means good. It’s not just change. It’s making sure it’s change for the better, and that it’s really an improvement. That’s one of the core fundamental things that we wrote about. Not all changes are good. We need to make sure that we’re following a good, systematic but not overly complicated Plan?Do?Study?Adjust cycle. It comes back to the Deming cycle of not just doing things, but doing things as a test with a hypothesis and making sure, “Did we really get the results that we expected?”

There are three different levels of Kaizen if we follow the Shingo Prize Criteria.

  1. Tool?driven Kaizen: We do a Kaizen event for every improvement. You end up thinking the event solves your problems and in reality the effectiveness is pretty limited.
  2. System?driven Kaizen: Common for most people and highlighted in the book “Learning to See”. These are Kaizen events and improvement projects that are related to, values for improvement plans.
  3. Principal?driven Kaizen: This is system?driven Kaizen plus daily Kaizen. This is really where you get empowered, and engage people. This is the true meaning of Kaizen where it is done each and every day. It doesn’t have to be a big Kaizen event. It could be something as simple as; “I want to move this particular file from point A to point B.”

I have had the fortune to discuss intimately with several people that I consider “experts” in the world of Kaizen and Kaizen events. I will quote them quite extensively through this section and encourage you to listen to the podcasts or read the transcriptions that are contained in the following pages. In the next pages, I will start with the Kaizen Culture and finish the week with events. I will also include material from Patrick Lencioni. His material, I believe supports Kaizen and Kaizen cultures without the connotation of “Lean” and Toyota in its verbage.

The definitive source on Kaizen is a book written by Masaaki Imai, Kaizen: The Key To Japan’s Competitive Success.

Continue to the next page Kaizen/Train