Lean Kaizen incorporates Kaizen’s ideal of continuous improvement and focuses on making and applying small changes for a significant amount of time in order to achieve desired results. This method involves all types of employees at different levels within the company and requires complete involvement by all parties in order to allow anyone to speak up regarding problems and ways of improvement.
The main techniques used by employees involve an analytical aspect and includes methods such as the “5-whys” to pinpoint ways of reducing waste in certain areas of production. The team then works on developing and implementing a plan for improvement, which is often applied almost immediately. The solutions involved are typically minute and more solutions are added as problems arise.
It is necessary to assess and follow up on the actions for improvement to be able to analyze how well the plan is working and to make sure that it continues to be applied for a long period of time. The system of Kaizen allows all employees to have a say in decision-making and boosts moral of employees within a company. Since this method is continuously in action, employees can choose to speak up on issues when they occur – which allows for solutions to greatly affect the company. Therefore, solution via the Lean Kaizen methodology are absolutely customized to the type of problems occurring in a company, Hence, it gets to be a customized solution not only specific to an industry segment but company specific too.
Though Kaizen does appear to focus on fixing manufacturing process related problems, it is also used to improve the organization in all aspects. Hence, Lean Kaizen plays a critical role in continuous business process improvement too.
Anything that positively contributes to the safety, efficiency or productivity of the organization is greatly valued in this methodology. Whilst employees can come up with ideas at their own leisure, it is often encouraged for organization’s to arrange brainstorming sessions on a regular basis. Typically in a brain storming session, employees are given a topic to focus on and discuss possibilities of improvement regarding the given subject.
It is most effective for these brainstorming, or Kaizen, sessions to include around five to seven people. This size varies on the number of employees in the company, company size, number and magnitude of problems etc. Organizations targeting improvement via Lean Kaizen should generally allow for the employees that are involved in the session to have some time during their work day to come up with solutions. The reason Kaizen sessions work well is because different viewpoints are heard and can help bring about a solution that works for all employees. The spirit of Lean Kaizen is that ‘no single day should pass by an organization without some type of small improvement being done in some process within the company”.
Shruti Bhat PhD MBA Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt is Pharmaceutical R&D and Continuous Improvement Director, Innoworks Canada
Shruti leads path-breaking product development programs such as Complex Generics, Nanotechnology and Targeted delivery systems for pharmaceuticals and natural products. Her mantra is to "Shorten development timelines, build quality-by-design, lean processes and bring products fast- to- market". Shruti integrates her proficiency in Design Thinking, Lean, Kaizen and other Continuous Improvement methodologies to improve R&D processes, productivity and profitability.
Shruti is Product Development & Continuous Improvement Advisor to several start ups, mid-size and growing firms in Canada, USA, India, Africa and other Emerging markets. Shruti has authored six books and is an invited speaker at several conferences and workshops.
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