Don’t Shortchange An Improvement Opportunity

The kaizen event is a great way to start to get people engaged in improving processes.  The kaizen event is an improvement event that focuses on a particular process during a dedicated and concentrated period of time.  Typically, these events last 3-5 days depending on the process that is being improved.  During the events, it is asked that the participants dedicate their full attention to the team.

Dedicating a full 3-5 days to work on a single process seems like a lot to most people.  Especially, people who have not participated in a kazien event.  This leads to a fun game of “Name That Tune” starring the kaizen event.  Managers will push back and ask if the event can be done in less time, “What about 1.5 days?”  One time I even had someone ask if we could do a 5-day event in 4 hours.

Speaking from experience, the timeline for a kaizen event is something that should not be negotiated.  Plan the minimum amount of time needed and stick to it.  If it is a 3-day event, don’t plan it for 5 days and if it is a 5-day event don’t squeeze it into 3 days.  This is a stake in the ground that a facilitator and leader should not move.  As the facilitator it is your responsibility to make sure the event is a success and you can’t do that if you are compromising the timeline right off the bat.

Some things that can work in negotiating the kaizen event, is to leave an hour or so at the beginning and end of the days for people to check email or get a chance to catch up on their day-to-day stuff.  Even planning several 1/2 days instead of a couple of full days.  This works well when improving a business process in an office area.  Another trick that works sometimes is to put a 1-day break between the 2nd and 3rd day if needed.  This gives people the chance to think about the work they have done so far and usually re-energizes them for the 3rd day.

When it comes to facilitating and leading improvement changes don’t shortchange yourself on the timeline to make people happy.  If you change the timeline then you should look at changing your scope.

Does anyone have any other helpful tips?

Posted on December 7, 2011, in Engagment, People and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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