Tag Archives: Kaizen events


Continuous improvement — this is the dream for forward-thinking shop floor stakeholders across all industries. However, few manage to facilitate such sustained advancement. In fact, more than 40% of the business leaders who spearhead continuous improvement efforts find themselves overseeing failing programs, according to research published in Harvard Business Review. There are a number of common contributing factors, including lacking daily practice. Yes, reinforcing continuous improvement through everyday exercises is essential to success. But how exactly can leaders promote this kind of necessary daily rededication? Embracing the Kaizen methodology ranks among the best options.

Organizations in virtually every sector leverage this Japanese philosophy, which emphasizes operational transformation through incremental optimization. Both formalized and impromptu ideation and root-cause analysis exercises are key to achieving these outcomes. Business leaders who want to implement continuous improvement initiatives that work would be wise to adopt the Kaizen approach and work with employees at all levels to make pragmatic, enduring change.

Mapping the emergence of Kaizen

Kaizen and lean manufacturing occupy the same theoretical orbit. This makes sense considering that they both emerged from the same location: the original Toyota Motor Company production plant located in Toyota, Japan. It was here that management consultant Masaaki Imai collaborated with former Toyota Chairman Shoichiro Toyoda to develop shop floor processes that facilitated continuous improvement or “change for the better,” the literal Japanese translation of Kaizen. These workflows empowered workers to address deficiencies in real time, Quartz contributor Melody Wilding reported. The automaker directed production teams to stop work and collaborate to find solutions for assembly process problems, quotas be damned. This approach reduced error occurrence and wastage and boosted efficiency, helping Toyota evolve into the biggest vehicle manufacturer on Earth.

Imai cataloged, organized, and formalized the strategies deployed at Toyota and published them in his landmark 1986 book, “Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success.” He established the Kaizen Institute one year later, which he has since used to promote the Kaizen approach.

Unpacking the Kaizen methodology

Kaizen centers on five foundational principles. These include:

These core concepts underlie all the actionable frameworks and tools that facilitate Kaizen application. Actually implementing the philosophy necessitates coordination and commitment, as only business leaders who adhere to overarching event schedules and agendas can uncover the kinds of shop floor insights that lay the groundwork for sustainable organizational advancement. As mentioned above, Kaizen methodology emphasizes internal collaboration, ideation, and problem solving through formalized sessions. While these gatherings do not generally occur daily, the more consistent and focused cooperation that unfolds, the more likely positive change is to happen.

Organizations in virtually every sector leverage Kaizen methodology, which emphasizes operational transformation through incremental optimization.

All Kaizen events have the same goals: getting stakeholders in one place, reviewing existing processes, improving existing processes, and ensuring buy-in. However, these sessions do not share identical frameworks — the strategy allows for variation. Here are some of the most common types of Kaizen events in use now:

While there are numerous other Kaizen session types — businesses that have adopted the philosophy over the years have also helped expand it — the collaborative formats mentioned above are typically considered canon.

Coordinating an effective Kaizen event

Kaizen events are immense productions. Internal stakeholders from different departments mingle with external consultants, executive team members depart their corner offices and make appearances, and in the end everyone unites to flip the switch on fresh production processes. With so much involved, impeccable coordination is absolutely essential. Fortunately, there are a good number of formalized event management best practices available to business leaders hosting their first Kaizen sessions. Here are some of the many variables that those involved in Kaizen event planning should address to facilitate success:

These are just a handful of the many factors that Kaizen adherents take into account when planning internal events, as continuous improvement often unfolds as a consequence of strong coordination.

Generating ROI the Kaizen way

Kaizen ranks among the most popular strategies for achieving continuous improvement — and for good reason. With roots in Toyota and Japan’s immensely well-respected industrial culture, the strategy easily holds up to scrutiny and can give business leaders the power to transform their companies, should they follow best practices. Of course, even stakeholders who fully embrace Kaizen can encounter difficulties stemming from the significant coordination requirements. Fortunately, these professionals have a place to turn for assistance: USC Consulting Group. We have been helping enterprises of all sizes embrace the agents of continuous change, including the Kaizen methodology.

Connect with USCCG today to learn more about are services and wide breadth of experience.

Getting Down to Business - The Essentials of Project Management


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Modern businesses in almost every sector regularly greenlight operational improvement projects – internal initiatives designed to address serious shop floor deficiencies, boost product quality and output, and ultimately bolster the bottom line. However, a surprisingly large number of these efforts fail on multiple fronts, according to research from the Project Management Institute, an international professional organization for in-house strategic coordinators. For instance, an estimated 16 percent of the organizations that embarked on internal projects in 2017 experienced outright failure and surrendered one-third of their respective budgets in the process. These businesses attributed project failure to numerous variables, including ineffective vision-setting and poor communication.

How can enterprises looking to upgrade their operations via internal improvement programs avoid these missteps and the associated fallout? There are multiple solutions out there. However, few are as effective as strategic roadmaps. During this process, project stakeholders establish a long-term collaborative framework meant to streamline execution and increase the likelihood of an ideal outcome. Project teams essentially create the blueprints for success, making it easier for them to carry out key tasks and move forward without getting sidetracked or making major strategic missteps. That said, effective roadmapping requires serious effort. Here’s how internal improvement stakeholders can get started with this approach:

Unpack the Kaizen event

The strategy of a roadmap actually centers on specific collaborative meetups called Kaizen events. These assemblies come from the well-known Six Sigma process improvement methodology, which emphasizes iterative, efficient operational advancement. Kaizen events serve several key purposes, including:


These are essential collaborative functions that might go unaddressed in looser project planning strategies. Additionally, team members often attend multiple Kaizen events throughout the lifespan of an internal initiative. This prevents the emergence of collaborative roadblocks or misunderstandings that could lay the groundwork for failure. However, businesses cannot simply put meetings on the calendar and expect their teams to communicate flawlessly and address all relevant pain points unprompted – there must be structure. This is where a strategic roadmap enters the picture.

Develop the Kaizen roadmap

Agendas build the foundation for effective meetings. The Kaizen roadmap does something similar, acting as an unchanging touchpoint for project team members in all departments. Most feature timelines overlain with specific collaborative tasks and sequential relationship details. Kaizen roadmaps also display the required effort levels and optimal durations associated with each scheduled task. This brand of planning makes it easier for teams to focus in on and address key variables in a timely manner.

What duties might a Kaizen roadmap include? Again, this varies depending on the project. That said, there are some relatively standard tasks. For instance, group data analysis is almost always a key activity, as Six Sigma, the genesis of the Kaizen event, emphasizes metric-based decision making. Additionally, businesses that host roadmapped gatherings of this kind often include time for current state evaluation, during which project stakeholders evaluate the status of a given initiative and assess the efficacy of its workflows.

In the end, strategic project management roadmaps centered on Kaizen events can make an immense impact on the shop floor, allowing businesses to roll out internal improvement efforts that generate actual return on investment. Here at USC Consulting Group, we have been helping companies embrace this approach for decades, lending them the guidance they need to bolster project team performance and realize revenue gains.

Contact USCCG today to learn more about our work.

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