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The Kaizen point

No Kaizen event, whether it is a full week or one day, will succeed without proper advance planning

Have you ever been understaffed and lacked time to do a full-week Kaizen to shorten the process and call it a point Kaizen? If so, then you are guilty of doing point Kaizens for the wrong reasons.

I n a point Kaizen, the Kaizen week to one, two or three days to attack simpler issues or projects with a narrow focus, are a powerful tool, but can also be a pitfall. Hazards include running a point Kaizen for the wrong reason or way. Bad reasons for point Kaizens include inadequate staffing for a full-week event, last-minute event planning with no area volunteers, a cheaper alternative to a Kaizen week, a belief that this event doesn’t require much lean experience and wanting to skip the training day.

A point Kaizen is an improvement activity intensely directed at a single workstation

For a point Kaizen to be successful, the team members should be experienced in lean events. The very nature of a point Kaizen, the shortened schedule means that the team members need to be able to condense all the processes of the full-week Kaizen into one day or, at most, three. Someone who hasn’t experienced a full-week Kaizen won’t have the understanding necessary to perform the shortened version and achieve a good result. So, in fact, a point Kaizen actually requires more lean experience of the team members than a standard week-long Kaizen does because the only way to skip a training day is to make sure that all team members are so well-versed in Kaizen events that skipping training won’t cost the team when it comes to getting results. If the team doesn’t carefully choose goals and objectives and prepare to quantify results, then there’s no way to hit the ground running, especially if the event is a one-day point Kaizen. And a company isn’t likely to save money on a shorter Kaizen event if that event isn’t well-planned and well-staffed, in fact, a poorly planned point Kaizen could actually end up costing a company if the lack of planning and proper staffing results in no workable solution to the problem being tackled.

Citing examples

Examples of good candidates for a point Kaizen include:

A particular operator or workstation in a cell is over takt timeA bottleneck exists in productionA particular operation has a high defect rateA need for standard work is evident at a particular workstation (because of multishift variation at the workstation)A narrowly focused issue exists that has a severely negative impact on flowAn item on a 30-day list from a previous Kaizen week remains unresolved or uncompleted

The plan

How do you plan for and conduct that point Kaizen to ensure the greatest chance of success? First, consider scheduling point Kaizens only after the plant or office already has conducted at least four regular week-long events, with 8–12 Kaizens being a better goal, and when team members understand the Kaizen process. One common mistake is to assume that experience with a single week-long event is adequate preparation for conducting a point Kaizen. As with any new process, there is a learning curve, and companies that attempt a point Kaizen after having completed just one or two week-long events often fail. This failure is largely due to not having the experience to choose the appropriate people to run the point Kaizen, and that experience comes from participating in several week-long events. If for some reason, a planned week-long event has to be shortened, then call it a point Kaizen and treat as such using the guidelines presented here.

Once you have staff that are well-versed in week-long Kaizen events, you are ready to try point Kaizens. To maximise your chances for success, identify a number of issues that could benefit from point Kaizens and then consider including your consultant as the leader for a week’s worth of those events – your point Kaizen training week.Second, plan to have two people from the KPO lead the event. The team should include three additional members: the affected operator, the internal supplier and the internal customer. The length of a point Kaizen depends on the scope of the problem and is best determined by an experienced and knowledgeable continuous improvement staff person. Third, run the point Kaizen to a tight agenda. Remember, you want to complete all the steps contained in a week-long event in the shortened schedule of the point Kaizen, and so you want to be just as rigorous in defining the problem to be addressed and planning for the shorter event.

The solution

Reporting out a point Kaizen can be problematic if the team needs to report to top management in the middle of the week. Some solutions companies have used are to have point Kaizen reporting on the shirt-tail of regular Friday reports (for the week-long events), to report out several point Kaizens at one time (perhaps at the end of the week in which they were held) or to have all report outs conducted at a regular time, perhaps once a month. No matter what report out method one chooses one needs to have only one team member available to present the report and the report should last no longer than 15 minutes. With a point Kaizen, the team must deliver something by the end of the day. Unlike with a week-long event, which has evolution time built-in to try ideas out and rethink or rework them if necessary, a point Kaizen has a much tighter focus. But at the end of the day sustainment requires follow up, whether for a point Kaizen or a week-long event, and sustainment is the measure by which the success of an event can be judged.

In short

Once a plant or office has made it through a point Kaizen training week, its site is recommended to conduct one point Kaizen per month for the next 6–12 months, then increase to two point Kaizens per month and ultimately to one point Kaizen per week. Successfully sustained results from previous point Kaizens are the benchmark by which a site can determine when to accelerate the frequency of events. Point Kaizens are focused tools especially for lean transformation. Its power can be harnessed for the good of the company, employees and customers.

• more@click-Code: ADI02017

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