Kaizen Events: Improving the Improvement Process
Walden, C. (2002). Kaizen Events: Improving the Improvement Process. In R. Eyler Coates (Ed.), Proceedings of the 2002 Gulf Coast Lean Manufacturing Conference". Gulfport, MS.
This paper explores the practice of using kaizen events or “blitz” approach as a tool for improving the improvement process within the context of lean enterprises. Kaizen is the Japanese word denoting continuous improvement. Kaizen events have long been used by practitioners of the Toyota Production System to train employees in applying lean concepts on the plant floor. Recently, many organizations have started to use these events as more than a training technique, but as a vehicle for implementing continuous improvement. Kaizen events are often referred to as a “blitz”. An overview of the traditional approach to improvement is presented and critiqued in this paper. The blitz approach is presented and is contrasted with the traditional approach. Refinements are made to the blitz approach in order to compensate for potential pitfalls. Finally, the results from several actual blitz events are discussed. These cases show the robustness of the blitz approach across a variety of problem types (quality, throughput, information systems) and a variety of environments (plant floor, office business processes, and technical/engineering).