You’ve probably heard the word “kaizen” used by organizations that have recently started their lean journey or even have been on it for a while. If you have, it’s possible the term was being misused, says Beau Keyte, Shingo Prize-winning author of The Complete Lean Enterprise and a guest lecturer for our MBOE program.
For many, Keyte says, Kaizen is an event. Really, it’s more like a small, reversible experiment you are conducting with a team in your organization to improve the processes. It’s not how many days you spend doing the experiment but how you actually go about doing it. What is the specific outcome you are expecting? Are you going change just the way you work or how you manage the work as well? Do you have the right people on the team? It’s important, Keyte says, to make sure the right people (operators) are doing the thinking and others are not doing the thinking for the operators.
Keyte suggested the following approach to running an experiment:
- Develop a theory about what you expect to happen (Grasp the situation)
- Develop a way to test your theory (Plan)
- Run the test and observe the result (Do)
- Analyze the results (Check)
- Confirm (or reject) your theory (Act)