Part of my company’s vision and mission statement is to deliver an exceptional customer experience and be committed to a culture of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is aligned and supports the corporate strategy to make consistent earnings grow. Continuous improvement involves all employees applying standard methods and tools to solve problems. My department has been involved in three kaizen events. I, personally, have been involved in two out of the three events, and I have been asked to participate in another event next week.
A kaizen event is designed to help understand urrent state, identify waste or non-value added steps, discuss and evaluate ideas for improvements, and develop a plan to execute the newly design future state in a process. A kaizen event consists of teams of six to eight people. It is led by a facilitator. The key is involving the people doing the work and asking for their help in improving the process. Also, there are a small number of people from support areas and management that may be asked to participate in the event. Events could last three to five days.
The outcome from a kaizen event is a plan of action with assigned responsibilities and timelines. It focuses on building and improving continuous improvement in processes and rapidly identifies and implements solutions. There are ten steps to an event: develop a project charter, develop a SIPOC, map out the current state, identify waste throughout the current process, develop improvement opportunities, create ideal state, create future state, develop continuous improvement newspaper, develop plan-do-check-adjust, and develop and present out brief.
The project charter is a statement that lays out individual roles and responsibilities, the problem statement, and what is in scope and out of scope during the event and the easures of success after the event. The project sponsor identifies a project lead and approves the project charter. The project lead identifies the team members that will participate in the event, is an equal team member, and conveys status, accomplishments, failures, and lessons learned to the project sponsor. The facilitator helps the group understand what they are trying to achieve and keeps the group focused on task and making progress during the event.
The team members provide their personal opinions, ideas, participate in all pre and post- activities, and completes assigned task. On the first day of the event, the facilitator discusses the project charter. It is the team member’s role to understand and agree that the scope, goal, and measurers are appropriate. The SIPOC, which stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers, is also completed the first day of the event. The team members with the help of the facilitator identify the suppliers, the inputs and outputs, and who their customers are from start to stop in the process.
The step of mapping out the current state of the process includes a paper that shows the step-by-step process using post-it notes. After the mapping is complete, the current state is evaluated for waste. Waste is work that does not directly add value to the product or service but consumes time and resources. There are seven types of waste. The acronym “TIMWOOD” is used to remember the seven types of waste: transportation, inventory, motion, wait time, over production, over processing, and defects.
These wastes are noted on different color post-it notes. After the waste is identified, it is time to evaluate the current state for opportunities for improvement. Improvement opportunities are one-item-flow, tandard work, visual controls, and pull systems. These improvement opportunities are also noted on different color post-it notes. Depending on the steps in the process, this usually wraps up the first day of the event. If there a lot of steps in the process, identifying waste and opportunities for improvement could roll over to the next day.
At the end of each day sponsors of the event are guided through a daily review of progress, review activities and conclusions, as well as barriers and resource needs for the next day. On the second day, the facilitator goes over the project charter again to make sure that he team members are still in agreement that the scope, goal, and measurers are appropriate. The next step is to create the ideal state. In order to create the ideal state, the team is instructed to think about the ideal state as if they have no restrictions in place to get the process completed from start to finish.
This step usually uses one to two post-it notes. The ideal state would be the absolute goal for the improvement process and something to work towards. The next step is to create the future state. When mapping out the future state, the team will eliminate the waste in the current process, incorporate the rocess improvements from the current state, and use the creative ideas from the ideal state. The team differentiates between Just-Do-It activities and items that need to be placed on the continuous improvement newspaper.
Just -Do-It activities are improvements that can be completed by an individual or a few individuals without requiring involvement by multiple departments in problem solving. Team members help create the new process and provide input on how things will flow. In the future state, the improved plan should contain solutions that can be implemented within 90 days of event ompletion. In order to make sure that the improved plan can be implemented within 90 days of the event completion, the team develops a continuous improvement newspaper.
The continuous improvement newspaper lists all of the problems identified in the waste analysis and the opportunities to reduce or eliminate the waste and indentifies the responsible party and timeline for completion. Team members are assigned tasks on the newspaper. These tasks may include creation of tools, standard work, training, and other items to implement the improved plan. The team will also develop a schedule for plan- o-check-adjust meetings. Team members will attend the plan- do-check-adjust meetings and provide updates on their newspaper items.
In the plan-do-check-adjust meetings, the team will discuss changes that were made in the event that may not be working, come up with a different plan, and go through the plan-do-check-adjust cycle again. Team members will serve as the ultimate owners of the new or changed process. Team members will present an out-brief to members of management. In the out-brief presentation, each team member will present a tool or output that was mapped out during the event. The out- rief presentation is 20 minutes plus time for questions.
The event process is designed to help understand current state, identify waste, non-value added steps, discuss and evaluate ideas for improvements, and develop a plan to execute the newly designed future state in a process. The key is involving the people doing the work and asking for their help in improving the process. The event will flow smoothly through this process by using a continuous improvement facilitator. The result is a plan of action with assigned responsibilities and timelines.
A successful event is following a plan using proven tools: Plan-Do- Check-Adjust, mapping the process with a value stream analysis, using data to validate the root cause of an issue, willingness to trial changes and adopts new ways of doing things, measuring the current state and future state so you know if you have hit your target, and truly allowing the people in the process to identify solutions and implement their ideas. These tools allow my company to effectively reduce or eliminate waste to save the company time and money. It also will improve the customers’ experience. This is important because these improvements will keep the company successful