Red Flags in Ronak’s Kaizen Plan

By Jon Miller Updated on May 23rd, 2017

Ronak has successfully implemented 5S and plans to move on to implementing kaizen at his company. His plan for implementing kaizen is:

1. Train employees regarding kaizen, different kind of waste, etc.

2. Launch a tool, an Idea box in which suggestions from the employees will be collected.

3.Quarterly basis rewards will be given to best kaizen team.
What else should be done? What I want is that this process should be 100% right the first time because if it fails then it will be very difficult to proceed again after improving the Kaizen process.

Please give your suggestions.

Thanks for sharing your plans and allowing us to help, Ronak. Training the employees in kaizen and how to recognize and agree on different types of wastes is a great start. I can recommend the stand in the circle as a solid practical exercise, which article 1, article 2 and article 3 explain.

Now I would like to point out a few red flags in Ronak’s kaizen plan.

First, hold the thought on the idea box. Box-based suggestion systems fail more often then not for a variety of reasons, mainly due to lack of preparedness to manage and motivate kaizen suggestions. The box depersonalizes the suggestion and removes the responsibility of the supervisor or manager to engage with the team member within 24-48 hours to check and develop the idea into a workable kaizen. This assumes you have front line leaders capable of coaching problem solving, many times not the case. What’s an appropriate kaizen suggestion? Has this been clearly defined? How many ideas can you approve and implement in a week? If this number is less than the incoming number of kaizens you risk demotivating people.

Second, put more effort into recognition than reward. The pleasure from extrinsic rewards fades rather quickly. It is too easy for the leadership to give money or prizes for good ideas. The only commitment is a line item in the budget. Giving recognition requires actually understanding and appreciating the nature of the kaizens implemented, which in turn requires that leaders actually go see for themselves. The budget for recognition is just human will, which is unlimited. the positive impact of this intrinsic reward is far more lasting.

Third, trying to get kaizen “100% right the first time” is like saying you want to make and eat omelets every day yet never crack an egg. The whole idea of kaizen is to try, experience both success and failure, learn from both and try again. Being 60% right and doing something right away is better than being 100% right and starting sometime in the distant future. If you ever think you have achieved 100% that just means that you need to recalibrate your expectations. Someplace in the 95% to 98% range means you are constantly learning, raising your expectations and DOING KAIZEN!

While Ronak’s comment that “if it fails then it will be very difficult to proceed again” with kaizen may be true, it is essential to set the clear expectation that there will be stumbles and failures but we will not give up, before even starting with kaizen. If the kaizen system is not working well, this just means that the system itself needs kaizen. That is the essence of kaizen. When you are training employees on kaizen, make sure that you make this clear: kaizen is not about perfection but the pursuit of perfection. Do not let them get discouraged by failures, either in their personal ideas or in the overall kaizen system itself.

In fact, as long as you have the mindset that “not perfect is OK as long as we keep learning” the actual mechanics of your initial kaizen system are not that important. Why not give the suggestion box a try as a learning exercise?

I suspect part of the reason for wanting a “100%” implementation is that you need this in order to convince others in your organization to adopt and support kaizen. During the planning and preparation process for starting with kaizen, speak with various stakeholders to understand their concerns. Even if all of their concerns cannot be addressed during the initial implementation the simple fact of listening to them will make them less likely to resist actively.

Lastly, I would question the assumption that you have “successfully implemented 5S”. Does this mean you are all done and that it will sustain all by itself? Are there zero signs of backsliding? Are all abnormalities immediately visible thanks to the superior level of 5S? Use whatever level of 5S you have achieved and sustained as a baseline for further kaizen, and to expose future opportunities, but don’t STOP doing 5S in order to START doing kaizen. They are fully integrated, not separate tools that allow for mastery and moving on.

What other tips or advice do readers have on implementing kaizen smoothly?

  1. RONAK

    June 29, 2010 - 10:17 pm

    Hi Jon,
    First of all thank you for the quick response.
    I do agree with you regarding 5S.
    What I meant with “successful implementation of 5S” is that we have reached a good level in 5S.
    Our 5S audit score is around 80% from last 10 months. And as you have suggested we will not stop doing 5S.
    Regarding Kaizen implementation process.
    We will work on your suggestions and come up with some solution for the same.

  2. Andrew

    June 30, 2010 - 4:07 am

    Hi Jon,
    just off the top of my head I would suggest understanding your standardised work for each work station, make sure it is visible in the gemba. (can also be used to rebalance workload)
    Also I would suggest more visualisation around workplace responsibilities/standards (perhaps a large board near the workstation where everyone can see), and show how your team is tracking to the standard. Flag abnormality on this board, look for problems (flag recurring abnormality for).

  3. Joseph

    June 30, 2010 - 9:51 am

    Start your system in one Supervisor Area doing a whole plant may be impossible to facilitate. Pick an area with a Supervisor that you trust to do his best. Train him first and give him every think that he will need to lead & coach his team. Only start with the KIAZEN when he is ready.
    Once you have launched you should support him 110% remember he still has his own job to do so do not leave him to do all of the work himself. He will feel ownership of the process if he has control of it. I agree with Jon do not give material rewards. The best reward for a good man is to recognise his value to the team, KAIZEN process and company.
    You must take time to explain the ground rules to the WHOLE TEAM. There is only one rule for ideas. No matter who puts the IDEA into the scheme it will only be implemented if it PASSES the criterion of TOTAL COST it must save money not cost money. We do not progress ideas just because the Operations Manager puts them in. There is no case for nice to have ideas in KAIZEN.
    Have an A3 copy of the form that Jon has suggested mounted on the area in a prominent position. This is VISUAL FACTORY and will give a focus to the KAIZEN process. All boxes on the form should be filled in by hand in INK. Changes can be done by putting one line through old info. but it must still be able to be read.
    It should also have the following information on it.
    1. The name of the person who raised the IDEA .With the date raised.
    2. The name of the person or department that is assigned to answer the IDEA. There should be a date when the IDEA must be answered by. People should not be allowed to sit on IDEAS as this will dishearten the suggestors.
    4. The answer to the IDEA.
    5. The STATUS of the IDEA should be assigned to each IDEA. open: under investigation: accepted: rejected.
    6. There should be an area to show the savings (time, floor space, cost, improved quality, tooling ,TPM, repairs, and so on. Make this space able to take multiple savings.
    7. There should be an area to indicate if the answer could be adopted in other areas or not. YES / NO indicator.
    The person who raised the IDEA must agree that the investigation has been done fully. They may feel that the person who investigated the IDEA did not fully understand their proposal correctly.
    Having established the MODEL you can now roll it out knowing it works.
    You also have an expert the Supervisor. You should have a bar chart on the area showing the number of IDEAS raised each day. This will keep the activity in sight. From time to time you may need to do a KAIZEN BLITZ to restart the process. Start the Blitz with a review of all of the previous IDEAS that were rejected. With the passage of time and changes in technology they may now provide savings.
    Remember that every think in the area can be used for IDEAS. STOCK – amount, presentation, location, rack height, colour code, late deliveries, and so on. The list is endless so you will need lots of paper. This can be extended to every stock part number. Give them some Examples as many may need to see what you are looking for.
    ( I saw a video once of people that had difficulty getting stock into an area. The answer was to knock down a large piece of the wall ). Get them to think out side the box.
    If you think it is hard starting your KAIZEN wait until the IDEAS raised mean that you can remove labour from an area. The people must understand that this is a system to keep the business competitive during trying times. Only the LEAN will survive. Thus protecting their jobs. If that reason is not enough then giving prizes won’t work. In some plants they convert the first person into a Group Leader. This will make the area run better give some one to do the LEAN coordination and assist the Supervisor. As the IDEAS save you can reduce the GL – Operator ratio. Start 1-15 then go to 1-8. Toyota use 1-5/6. I am told. You may end up with the same number of people on the shop floor but you will have a better product, improved production metrics FTT, OEE, DTD, etc.
    They are grown up adults tell them every think and they will respond. Try to kid them and they will fight back. If some people are not giving IDEAS get people to put IDEAS in on their job. They will soon start putting IDEAS in just to get people back. There are more ways to kill a pig that stuffing it with saw-dust. PRAISE PEOPLE WHO DO GOOD. Help people who are struggling. DO NOT USE A SUGGESTION BOX. By its nature there is no control or accountability. It relies on good will you want a process that is manageable and sustainable.
    Get The Higher Management to visit the KAIZEN A3 Board and initial the bottom to ensure it is being supported by all the service departments. Remember when the ship goes down you are all on it.
    Hope some of this helps or gives you ideas.

  4. Rudy Go

    July 2, 2010 - 5:50 am

    Hi Ronak,
    Congratulations on your early gains in lean. Your 5S-Visual Control should continue to produce wealth of problems for your company to work on. 5S is afterall about visualizing abnormality. A visual control showing deviation from the beat of the customer will surely keep a team busy. Any 5S program that is focus mainly on aesthetic and less on functionality could potentially be expensive and short live. I agree with Jon that recognition is more powerful then reward. At this early stage you might consider daily management gemba walk. Just for the leaders doing this walk is a form of recognition already. Good luck to your journey.

  5. RONAK

    July 9, 2010 - 3:10 am

    Hi Jon.
    I am really thankful to you and other readers who have posted their comments.
    Based on all the suggestions we have formulated a new plan.
    Our new plan for implementing Kaizen is as below.
    We will start with only one production area.
    1. Train Manager and shift leaders for Kaizen and share the implementation plan with them also formulate a template in which employees will give their suggestions with focus on Safety, Productivity, quality, travel time, 5S etc.
    2. Train employees about kaizen and finding different types of waste
    3. Train employees about the suggestion form and how to fill that form.
    4. Person giving the suggestion will be the team leader and he will form a team to implement the kaizen.
    5. Team leader gives the form to section manager (we are avoiding the idea box system); within 7 days section manager and our team will prioritize the suggestions. And give feedback to team leader accordingly.
    6. Where we will make a kaizen board for each production area.
    7. Within 7 days team leader and his team will implement kaizen.
    8. After 30 days of implementation the kaizen an audit will be conducted to monitor the results that were predicted has been achieved or not.
    9. We will observe the system for one quarter and if it is working well than we will move for a roll out plan for whole plant.
    Regarding recognition and rewards Kaizen team to be appreciated and given reward at every quarterly meeting addressed by our VP where every staff member is present.
    Please give your valuable comments for this. Hope to get a green flag for this plan.

  6. Joseph

    July 11, 2010 - 3:49 pm

    Congratulations on this excellent plan. You are developing teams and once they see that their ideas are being used and they are getting the praise then you will be on a winning out come. Praise is a powerfull thing to people who have never been listened to. The output of a team will always be better than that of the best individual.
    You will still need to help and support them until they develope a drive of there own. It is very rewarding to see how good people can be given the correct coaching. They will surprise you.
    We had people who sang the Leading Roll in their local Operatic Society for a hobby. Clever people that we never listened to.
    Make sure that they enjoy the process, they are an untapped talent.
    Please keep us posted on your progress or let us help if you encounter any problems.
    Keep a close eye on the staff that should be supporting the process some of them may want it to fail.
    When you are ready use people from this area to train the other areas. They will enjoy the respect it will bring them and the new area will take it better from their own people. Remember it will still be your baby. Get them to do a presentation of some of their best ideas to your higher management. Our people loved showing people how clever they were.
    May the force be with you.

  7. Jon Miller

    July 12, 2010 - 4:51 am

    Hi Ronak
    Great work in turning the PDCA wheel.
    A few points:
    4. Person giving the suggestion will be the team leader and he will form a team to implement the kaizen.
    –> Be careful that the team leader does not “edit” ideas, “delete” ideas or otherwise squelch the creativity of the team members. The team leader must be the facilitator and coach of the team members’ ideas, not the judge. The target is 99% acceptance of ideas, enabled by back-and-forth dialogue to make even bad ideas into good ones.
    5. Team leader gives the form to section manager (we are avoiding the idea box system); within 7 days section manager and our team will prioritize the suggestions. And give feedback to team leader accordingly.
    –> Feedback in 7 days is a good target. Try to always beat it. Also look for ways to “fast track” certain ideas that can be tried within 24-48 hours, such as “no budget, reversible changes”. Not all ideas should wait 7 days.
    8. After 30 days of implementation the kaizen an audit will be conducted to monitor the results that were predicted has been achieved or not.
    –> Who will do this audit? How can you check on a daily basis whether the kaizen has had the desired impact? What will you do if you learn that the kaizen did not yield the desired result?
    Keep churning the ice cream maker!

  8. Ronak

    July 21, 2010 - 3:12 am

    Hi Jon, Based on all the inputs I had prepared a plan for implementing kaizen and we are planning to implement it from 2nd week of August.
    Really thankful to all for the valuable inputs.
    I will keep you updated on the progress.

  9. Joseph

    July 23, 2010 - 10:18 am

    Congratulations. We have lift off. You will not need telling that “If you do not plan for success then you are planning for failure.” Make sure that all of the people and facilities are ready to go on Monday Morning 15th August.
    Between now and the start date. Make up your own list of Kaizen Ideas for every, station / job in the “Plant Implementation Area”. Ask other Engineers, Managers & Staff for their ideas. Keep them until you launch then if the Ideas are coming slow from the operators start to feed the Ideas that you have collected into the people on the shop floor. Make it look as though they have come up with the Ideas. Basically sow the seeds of the Idea with them and credit them with thinking it up. It is all part of the game if you want to win. Do not give them all of your Ideas at the start. Use just enough to kick start the process. Save some for times when the team are flagging.
    “Change is the only constant” This is a quote from Heraclitus, a Greek Philosopher.
    I saw a good article on the web about “Knotters 8 Step Change Model.”
    If you have not read this it may give you some good ideas on how to manage your Kaizen Change. I thought it was very good.
    Knotters 8 Step Change Model.
    1)Create Urgency.
    2) Form A Powerful Coalition.
    3) Create A Vision For The Change.
    4) Communicate The Vision.
    5) Remove Any Obstacles.
    6) Create Short-Term Wins.
    7) Built On The Change.
    8) Anchor The Change In Corporate Culture.
    Give the team some early WINS. This will help light the fire.
    Ps. Please make sure that you give every IDEA a unique number. 1,2,3 …134 etc.
    If you are discussing an Idea away from the Gemba you must be sure that you are all talking about the same idea. When you roll out the Kaizen you can start each area’s list with an area code. AW1…..AW125 CG1…..CG74 etc.
    Make sure that you get an early night on the Sunday before you launch.
    Have a wash up meeting with all of the main player at the end every shift. Until the process is running on its own. Talk about “Things that went right” & “Things that went wrong”. Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Tell the people about the status of the roll out. Things won’t get better on their own if they need action.
    Do every thing through the supervisor of the area. Trust Him and coach him.
    Make sure that the poeple are enjoying the process. If they are giving the plant their IDEAS you must give them feedback when it is due. This process should be very important to your plant. Show them that it is getting all areas support. Do not let it fail for lack of Management / Service Department support. It would be better that you did not start the process. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
    Be BRAVE.
    Sorry for going on. Have a nice day.

  10. Joseph

    July 23, 2010 - 3:09 pm

    I have just read one of Jon’s old Blogs. I thought an extract from it if you have not read it may help your people with their, Kaizen Thought Process.
    The Blog Was “Top 10 Titans of TPS.
    The Quote was from “Peter Drucker” it is ” There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

  11. Joseph

    July 26, 2010 - 1:03 pm

    Sorry for giving you the wrong name above, it should read ( “Kotter’s” 8 Step Change Model ) and not Knotters as I have written above.

  12. Hormoz Mogarei

    August 11, 2011 - 1:03 pm

    Most companies, when embark upon “Lean”, almost inavariably, always start with 5-S! No arguments about cleaning, no questions about organization! In fact they are very essential! But my “main point” is that you can be super clean and organized and still lose your shirt!!!, if you don’t consider effective and efficient flow! Flow of people, materials and information. Treating “Dandruff” is not a bad thing but it is not very relevant if the patient is dying of “Cancer”!!! Bad Flow is “Cancer” and disorganization is “Dandruff”!!!

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