Kaizen is a working method from Lean Management to question and restructure processes. After a value stream analysis, Kaizen Events are held to improve existing procedures. " An essential part of a Kaizen Event is to look at the location of the event. We do a so-called Gemba Walk so that everyone on site has the same level of knowledge and the specifics of the daily tasks become clear. This allows us to be close to the scenery and to reflect reality," says Steffen Langner, Head of Continuous Improvement.
The structure of a Kaizen Event
Usually, Kaizen Events last for a whole week. This allows for thematic depth, trying out different process improvements and arriving at a good solution together. Shorter workshops are also possible. "If time does not permit, you can also organise an event in fewer days. However, this means even more detailed preparation, restrictions on the process boundaries (beginning & end) and very clear structures in terms of time and content. Ideally, you should take at least four days," Steffen tells from experience.
During the Kaizen Days, the working group is coached by a facilitator. This facilitator provides guiding questions and the basic challenge and offers various Lean tools for problem solving and process optimisation. The facilitators are the trained and experienced members of the Continuous Improvement Team. In addition to this facilitator, there is a person who takes responsibility for the further implementation of the adopted new processes on site. In addition, there are other team members from different operational areas and management. Here, the advantage lies in using the different levels of knowledge and being able to discuss the issues together. "One thing is particularly important: there are no hierarchies. Every person in Kaizen has the same voting rights," adds Steffen. "This is how we ultimately come to the best results: within the teams, the ideas and suggestions complement each other, the practical test shows what is possible and, in the end, a new process is adopted together. This is then implemented by the person responsible on site. In the end, many small improvements bring about the big leap.
Get some impressions from the last Kaizen Event in Glattbrugg, Switzerland: