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How to conduct a Kaizen Blitz

Q: What is a Kaizen Blitz?
A: The Kaizen Blitz (or as it is also called, Kaikaku) is a system implemented by those looking to create a lean manufacturing technique to reduce waste and increase productivity. Kaizen is a rapidly and widely implemented improvement system that is meant to be long term. By definition Kaizen means "improvement" or "continuous improvement." Kaizen Blitz implementation is small but constant in nature. Although a Kaizen Blitz is discussed by a relatively small group of individuals in a short amount of time, the changes it makes the operations of a company are dramatic.

A Blitz can be used to resolve a small but nagging long term problem or it can be used to completely re-design a procedure. It is a small improvement that brings about a drastic change. Or in other words, many things done a little better consistently can dramatically improve output.

Q: How do you implement a Kaizen Blitz?
A: The concept is simple: Gather the managers or heads of department together. Assess the processes that are flawed and create waste (whether in material or time). Brainstorm on ideas for eliminating this waste. And then decide on the ways that they will be rapidly implemented. Continuous improvement comes into play when the results of these rapidly implemented ideas surface. The concept however remains the same: continuously evaluate and create solutions for imperfections quickly and consistently.

The following steps are suggestions for the implementation of the Kaizen Blitz:

1: Use the data - Know your numbers and evaluate the hard facts. Ultimately you are in the business of making money. You need to know what your position is in the market. What are your finances like, where can you cut back, where are finances available, what has changed since last year, etc. Do your homework and have the data to back up your ideas for change.
2: Have a vision and a goal - Have in mind what you would like your Blitz to achieve. Then after consulting with the group, make goals that can be used to determine whether or not the changes that have been implemented have actually made the desired changes.
3: Inform and involve the right people - The kaizen strategy aims to involve workers. Managers or heads from multiple positions in the business work together to use analytical techniques to solve problems and improve processes.

Q: How long does a Kaizen Blitz take?
A: The Kaizen Blitz happens rapidly by definition, but there is some debate as to how rapidly. Some say that from the point that a brainstorming meeting starts to the end of the day is all you need. Just a few hours! Others suggest anywhere between two to ten days to implement rapid changes. Regardless, the idea of rapidly changing the efficiency of your production line in about a week is certainly appealing. One must not forget however that although the initial changes of the Kaizen Blitz are rapid and dramatic, constant evaluation and on-going change is imperative for the continued success of this type of lean manufacturing.

Q: What are the advantages to a Kaizen Blitz?
A: You create specific objectives that relate to specific problems in the hopes that you can find resolution in a short period of time. Results are quick and significant. Fast results and little time to second-guess yourself creates excitement and enthusiasm among those involved.

Q: What are the disadvantages to a Kaizen Blitz?
A: Initially there is no time for deep thought and prolonged discussion. Although small problems can be eliminated quickly, there is also the possibility that the big picture is lost in the shuffle. Overall functionality may suffer as a result of using a narrow perspective.

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