Many times folks are in fact executing kaizen’s in an attempt to make things better and I applaud them.In addition to the infamous “kaizen mind set” there are at least two, possibly more, types of kaizen events I am aware of: point kaizen and system kaizen.
Let’s discuss them.
From my experience the most common type of kaizen practiced is called point kaizen. These kaizen events typically come about as the plant manager is walking through the shop (a great thing by the way) and notices a mess in cell 4.
So he or she finds the supervisor of the cell and discusses it. The supervisor gets the hint and launches an immediate 5S kaizen event in the area.
Great stuff to be sure… but we must be careful lest point kaizen consumes us and we lose focus on the entire system.
System kaizen, in contrast to point kaizen, comes about when this same plant manager realizes that their flagship product line is suffering from a growing past due backlog, too much inventory, and overall poor morale from the folks adding value to the product.
With this in mind, he or she works with the team in developing both a current state value stream map and then a future state value stream map. This future state value stream map is a view of how the team wishes to see things working in a pre-determined time frame (e.g. 3 months, 6 months, etc.).
Things like tidying things up via 5S, creating model cells, and implementing WIP and finished good supermarkets may be some of the things needed in order to reach this future state.
System Kaizen Leads to Point Kaizen
What the team soon realizes is that the 2 day value stream mapping “system kaizen” exercise lead to the identification of multiple “point kaizen” events. And once these point kaizen events are successfully complete the team should be much closer to their future state vision.
So, while point kaizen is never bad, I feel it extremely important to mention the need to first look at things from a “system” perspective before worrying about things on a “point” perspective.