We have been running 3-day and 5-day Kaizen workshops for 15+ years now within Europe and USA, with many types of organisations – not just manufacturing, but also service-based organisations such as financial services organisations and the public sector. As a tool for continuous improvement, our clients find Kaizen to be one of the most efficient ways of achieving breakthroughs within a short period of time, that have a lasting impact on the team, department, or organisation involved.
The concept of Kaizen has been around for some time now and is well known in the manufacturing industry in the UK. For those who have not experienced the transformation that Kaizen workshops can make in an organisation, it might seem like just another ‘buzzword’. In reality, Kaizen is part of a philosophy of continuous improvement – a philosophy that made Toyota one of the most successful manufacturers of its time and gave Japan a true competitive advantage.
‘Kaizen’ is a Japanese word, meaning "change for the better. In a Kaizen workshop, participants experience a hands-on approach, develop day-to-day teamwork and learn better approaches to solving real problems in their work environment. The skills that are developed are used not just to overcome today’s issues, but are used on an on-going basis to address tomorrow’s challenges too.
For a Kaizen workshop to be successful, it is vital to choose the right people. They need to be motivated for change, be empowered to be decision-makers and have different roles within the organisation, for example, managers and shop-floor workers or administrators. They should also be able to provide different points of view. When necessary, other stakeholders such as suppliers and customers are also involved, to effect change on the entire end-to-end value chain.
Typically, the key points involved in a Kaizen workshop include a focus on:
- uncovering common goals: finding potential long-term as well as short-term solutions, which are implemented via achievable ‘Kaizen steps’
- making a difference within the kaizen event
- exposing waste and opportunity
- addressing day-to-day problems, rather than high-level issues
- a few issues that are solvable. These are prioritised to focus on the most important ones, so that changes can be implemented straight away and the improvement can be experienced almost immediately
- a step-by-step, pragmatic approach to achieve small changes that can make a big difference.
Get in touch if you'd like to know more about kaizen workshops and how they can help your organisation make every-day improvements.