Kaizen of the Month at Gemba, December 2006

By Marcie MacRae
Going into the holidays and having the majority of the staff out of the office can be a good time to implement a big kaizen in the office. This year while staff was on winter holidays, the admin team and two consultants set out to improve our office. Now I should mention that this happens about every six months, and this is not our first, nor our last change.
Here is what the office looked like before Christmas 2006:
The kaizen team that was working on this office re-layout event were given some goals:
1. Create more room for a visual management area
2. Get rid of clutter and un-used office furniture
3. Make the office more open to create a feeling of space
4. Remove obstacles to mobility (bookshelves on wheels)
5. Make common items more centralized
Our last change to our office left us with numerous desks, built out of pipe & joint material. These desks were spread around the office some in pods of two or three, some against walls. Of course all of these desks were on wheels for easy mobility, though many were hooked to power and communications wires making them more difficult to move on a daily basis. Many of them also went unused as our consultant’s increasingly went to the gemba (out on the road) and spent less time in the office.

Visual boards were set up on wall space that we had available. Being that we did not have space a lot of space on the walls, they were spread out and mixed up.

Our bookshelves are old, unmovable, unstable, disorganized and quite tall. They also took up valuable wall space which we wanted to use for visual management and as a Hoshin Kanri control center.

The office had numerous centralized office supply areas:
A window sill in the admin area.

A file cabinet in the middle of the room.

The bookshelves, in between the two.

And a printer cart.

These were some hefty goals for four people and two days, but the event was successful in reaching the goals and/or making way for the goals to be completed.
To achieve goals one and two we got rid of two of our seven stand-up desks. We pulled four of them into a pod in the center of the room and put one of them in the admin area for an extra to use as a work bench and/or desk when needed. We also moved the bookshelves to a different wall.
This left a lot of one wall (the largest we have) to make room for movable white board easels to use as our visual boards.

To increase mobility, each desk was equipped with a power strip that can be plugged into any where. An increased antenna was installed on our wireless router so that the computers did not need a wired connection.

We made a shelf to contain the centralized office supplies and placed them in the consultant’s area, accomplishing goal #5. We also protected the internet routers.

Here is what our office looks like now:

Action items left:
– Finish building bookshelves out of pipe and joint material
– Put wheels on packing / shipping station
We freed up space, improved visibility and flexibility. And the best part is the lack of a “control center” for visual boards is no longer an excuse for not having Hoshin Kanri review sessions.


  1. Peter Lund

    February 11, 2007 - 9:13 am

    If you put a small UPS on each desk cart, you can move it around at any time without disrupting whatever is plugged in.

  2. Ethan Hunt

    April 7, 2010 - 3:23 am

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading.

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