Make sure a Kaizen event is the right project type for your improvement efforts. Kaizen events are best for complicated, but well defined problems, requiring many small tests of changes to determine the best solutions to achieve your target state.
Allow plenty of time for planning and preparation prior to the Kaizen event. Start 4-8 weeks prior to the event identifying the team, collecting current state data, and finalizing goals for the project.
Provide project teams a project roadmap and set expectations for the event. Communicate expectations and the project timeline to team members prior to the event kickoff. Keep teams informed of progress and what’s next throughout.
Plan for Just in Time (JIT) training during the event. Your Kaizen will yield better results when everyone understands the Lean Six Sigma tools being applied.
Strong facilitation and project management skills are necessary to ensure achievement of project deliverables. Facilitating a team 8 hours a day for 3 – 5 days can test even the best facilitators. It is easy for things to get off track and for momentum to wane. Consider co-facilitation and/or assigning team roles to help keep things on track.
Executive Leadership support is critical to success. Engage executive sponsors and process owners at every stage of the project. For the Kaizen event, ask the executive sponsor to kick off the event and bring critical leadership in for mid and end of week updates.
Establish visual monitoring tools to keep momentum going during implementation. A lot can be accomplished during a Kaizen event but it is easy for implementation tasks to fall through the cracks without a good monitoring strategy. Develop visual tracking tools with action steps and metrics to help teams keep their eye on the ball.
Have fun and celebrate even small wins! This is hard work and time consuming. Find ways to make it fun and be sure to acknowledge and celebrate the team’s efforts throughout the project.
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