What is Kaizen?
In Japanese, the word Kaizen generally means “improvement,” Kai being “change” and Zen being “good.” So, it could be translated as, “good change” or “change is good.”
It is really a business philosophy of continuous improvement of work practices and personnel efficiency. Kaizen events are particularly helpful when trying to improve a process that impacts multiple people or departments, as it promotes change through a culture of teamwork and collaboration. The event brings together all cross functional departments involved in a given process, evoking ideas and input from all levels of staff.
What a Kaizen Event Looks Like
The graphic below outlines all steps of a kaizen event, from inception to completion and subsequent continuous improvement.
- The first 2 steps take place prior to the kaizen event itself. Begin by identifying the exact process your business needs to improve (or work on first), as well as the desired outcome.
Be sure to clearly define the outcomes and goals you hope to achieve from the process improvement. As a group, we need to review the process through data analysis to establish a baseline for the current state.
Next, you put together the team that will participate in the event.
Identify all people, departments, areas or functions affected and/or touched by the process, as at least one person from each process step will need to be included during the event. This is imperative to assure that no one will be affected by the process changes, without having input in the changes.Finally, we schedule the event, bearing in mind schedules and the effect that absences will have on the functions of the business.
During the actual event, which typically takes place over 2-4 days, the most important thing to remember is teamwork. There often isn’t a right answer or a wrong suggestion, so everyone should be mindful to allow any and all input from staff.
The Kaizen Event Timeline
- First, the team maps out the current state of the process, being sure to list all steps, how all information flows into and out of the process, and how other processes interact and intersect. Seeing the current state detailed in front of the team will be a big eye-opener, as most staff are usually unaware of just how much is involved.
- The next step is to identify all areas of wasted time or those steps that do not add value to the end product or goal. Then we ask, “Is a customer/patient/client willing to pay for that step?”
- In the third step, the team looks to where and how it can eliminate the waste, reduce unnecessary tasks, reduce the time to complete the process, and add the most value to the end user.
- Finally, the team maps out what the new, future state process looks like with only the necessary steps included. The future state should be the ideal process, where all team members agree to the changes and updated steps.
After the Kaizen Event
Once the new process has been developed by the team, it needs to be documented as a standard procedure, and employees in all relevant departments must be trained on the new process.
Everyone must review and sign off on the new process structure. It will take working as a team to ensure that the new process starts smoothly and runs successfully.
A go-live date will be determined after everyone has been trained on the process. After the new process goes live, additional data will be collected to measure improvements against the baseline and validate the process.
We will be there with you through the entire process, because we are a team.
If you are struggling with creating efficient processes in your office, let Legacy facilitate a Kaizen event for you! We’ll help you develop new processes for your everyday tasks that will leave your office empowered and running smoothly.