The Most Important Aspect of Kaizen

I recently facilitated a SMED kaizen event.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to facilitate events all over the world. But this event was different. Very different.

You see this kaizen event was in France and short of two team members, no one spoke English!

And to complicate matters even more my French is not exactly good… beyond oui, bonjour, and merci I’m pretty much done.

But through a translator and a lot of unspoken direction we managed to radically reduce a machine changeover time.

I was pleased with the results, no question. But the thing I was most happy with was the transformation of the shop floor workers throughout the week.

You see, it makes no difference where in the world kaizen is done… chances are there will be some folded arms and resistance on day 1. This is normal and I expect it. Heck, I welcome it!

But, done correctly, kaizen always opens the minds of associates who are being asked to engage in improvement like never before.

You see if we take the time to involve, challenge, and really listen to people at all levels good things will happen.

Will you always reduce changeover time by 50%? No. But that’s not the most important aspect of kaizen if you ask me.

The most important aspect of kaizen – to me – is seeing the smiles, and even tears from time to time, of kaizen team members as they proudly report to their General Manager on the improvements realized.

Done correctly kaizen opens minds. Done correctly kaizen penetrates the soul. Done correctly kaizen changes lives for the better.

This is why I love kaizen.  Do you love it too? Why?

3 Comments

  1. Jan Jochmann

    May 21, 2010 - 1:00 am

    Ron,
    a nice post, like always. I would like to have the chance one day to participate in a kaizen led by you, I think this would be inspiring 🙂

    I also agree with you – the perfect thing on kaizens is the opportunity to see people smiling and enjoying the event and the possibility to make changes to their workplace and do something different from their daily routine.
    I will always remember one of our 5S kaizen events, where one of our team members baked a cake with a sing 5S on the top and brought it to the last day of the event when the presentation for management was done …

  2. Shane Allen

    May 24, 2010 - 7:09 am

    Just finished an event last week and could not agree more. We made some nice improvements but the real progress was how the team was engaged and motivated like I have never seen.