Sometimes segments and departments need major reorganization efforts, but obviously it can be counter productive to constantly go around reorganizing departments. There are also ways to promote improvement that doesn’t involve radical change or reorganization. Kaizen systems are one method we use at Bizmanualz to foster an atmosphere of improvement.
A Kaizen is the Japanese philosophy that focuses on continual improvement. For Bizmanualz, a Kaizen is an improvement that we record, track, and follow up on to ensure effectiveness and sustainability. Kaizens can also be classified into corrective actions, preventive actions, or simple corrections.
In an effort to get the whole staff involved, we created a spreadsheet that tracks how many each employee has done for the month (the goal is two each) and the running total for the month. We also post our Kaizen forms in our office to communicate all of these improvements to the employees.
Every time we put up a new Kaizen, we also take one down and follow up to make sure the change actually resulted in a sustained improvement. The more Kaizen systems implemented, the better the chance of winning.
Small Improvements Add Up
Kaizen, translated literally, means good change. Kaizens represent a philosophy whereby organizations, and the individuals within it, undertake small, incremental, continual improvements of all aspects of organizational life.
Kaizen systems encourage employees to spot and implement improvements around the workplace, no matter how small. Not only does this program put a systematic method in place that implements and communicates employees suggestions for improvements, resulting in a more productive workplace, it also
- Creates an atmosphere were employee suggestions are valued
- Makes employees more vigilant in looking for improvements
- Creates awareness that even small improvements are important
- Provides a system where such improvements are communicated to other employees
Kaizens at Bizmanualz
The kaizen system at Bizmanualz is very simple and straight-forward. An employee recognizes a positive change or an opportunity for improvement. They complete a form that describes the change in detail, with a brief description of what was occurring before, the specific improvement, and what occurs now, after the improvement. Then, the kaizen is announced and explained at the next meeting, and the completed form is posted in an obvious and highly visible place so everyone can see and take note of the improvement.
Another important facet of the Bizmanualz kaizen system is that kaizen goals are set for each employee. In practical terms, this means that a number of kaizens revolve around very small improvements that do not have drastic impacts. Setting kaizen goals and even creating a stream of small kaizens, however, helps promote an atmosphere where employees are always looking for things to improve, and it is through this improvement mindset that breakthrough advances can occur.
If It Saves a 1/2 Second, It’s Worth Improving
At Bizmanualz we have had kaizens that improved the visual workplace, as well as kaizens that keep newer magazines in the lobby. We have had kaizens that improve customer order forms, purchase order processing, and kaizens that moved coffee cups closer to the coffee pot. While some might have a more significant impact than others, all kaizens are important because they promote the environment of improvement.
Remember, when implementing a kaizen system:
- Design improvement into everyone’s job
- Build a structure to implement ideas
- Celebrate small employee successes
- No idea is too small
To learn more about using process improvement programs for your organization, attend the our upcoming classes.