KaizenTips for Lean Managers

How to Use a Kaizen Newspaper

By Jon Miller Updated on May 29th, 2017

Chris asked: Are there rules for what goes on a kaizen newspaper so it does not become a massive action item list?

A “massive action item list” should be cause for celebration. A full kaizen newspaper is a good thing. The fact that this is a concern might say something about the quality of the action items rather than the quantity. So here are a few rules of thumb on how to use a kaizen newspaper.
But first a basic introduction to the wonderful tool that is the kaizen newspaper. It is a great visual management tool for any gemba, and an essential part of kaizen activities or Lean management on a daily basis.
The kaizen newspaper is basically a list of improvement actions that contains the following information, at least in the Gemba version:
No (number of item)
7W (type of waste, to include energy, space, safety and environmental losses also)
Problem & Root cause
Status (stage of completion in PDCA cycle)
The inclusion of the Plan, Do, Check, Act in the Status column is critical. The PDCA cycle developed by statistics pioneer Walter Shewhart was taught to the Japanese in the 1950s by quality management guru W. Edwards Deming, becoming part of the essence of kaizen.
The inclusion of the PDCA elements in the kaizen newspaper acts as both a reminder to follow each step and most importantly Check and Act rather than just Plan and Plan and Plan or Do without follow up. It is also a great visual to show status of completion.
The kaizen newspaper is pretty straightforward, so how to avoid Chris’s problem of the “massive action list”?
As a general rule, all problems should be identified. The fact that you don’t have resources right now to solve the problem is no reason not to make the problem visible and develop a shared understanding and ownership of the issue. That way when you have the resources you can address it quicker.
A task or improvement action should NOT go on the Kaizen Newspaper if:
– The problem is stated as a personal issue rather than a process issue
– You cannot identify what type of waste it is (7W column)
– You are writing down a problem that does not pertain to the gemba where the kaizen newspaper is posted
– It takes longer to write it down than to actually solve the problem
Kaizen newspapers should be posted and managed by zone. If there is no ownership of the kaizen newspaper by the person in that zone, don’t bother writing anything on it as it will just become an eyesore.
If the improvement list becomes massive, this is a visual reminder that either there are far too many problems in one area and it needs immediate attention, or that adequate problem solving resources are not being provided. Abnormalities in either case, that need to be addressed.
It’s called a newspaper for a reason. Go to the gemba where it is posted and read it daily. Whittle away at it. Don’t meet about it weekly. Don’t review it away from the gemba. Genchi genbutsu is the best way to complete kaizen newspaper action items.
Make the kaizen newspaper big and don’t spend a lot of time making them look pretty. If you don’t plan on reading it and doing something with the information there at least once a day, take them down. It’s no longer a newspaper, and it’s no longer kaizen.

  1. ekaizen

    November 3, 2007 - 4:22 am

    Thanks. I must review my notes about the kaizen newspaper because I´ve other models.

Have something to say?

Leave your comment and let's talk!

Start your Lean & Six Sigma training today.