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Thursday, September 23, 2010


I was invited to be a content advisor for a Kaizen training program. Toyota production system is known for following Kaizen. It refers to a system which constantly works to improve various processes; this could be implied to business, production lines or health care. Training involves all employees from CEO to security. Organizations like NASA to hospitals are using the core philosophy of Kaizen and lean principles. I was able to attend some of it but what I heard and what I have read in the past was most interesting.

Kaizen demonstrates a strong desire to eliminate Muda, a Japanese word for wasteful or non value activity. If you look at the way we do work, there is a lot of duplication in what we do. From my perspective nurses ask all the same questions to the patient as we do. Past medical history of a patient is not updated in medical records. We invent the wheel all over again when we admit an old patient.  There is a lot of Muda from where I see it.

This whole week I have been seeing people running in black vest, working on small projects other than their usual duties. One of the ideas one staff member came up was to implement a color coded patient census board. Like red denoted 100 % census and yellow 75%. This helps with early discharges and other planning involved.

The five main principle of Kaizen are
§                     Teamwork
§                     Personal discipline
§                     Improved morale
§                     Quality circles
§                     Suggestions for improvement
Kaizen Way, a book by Robert Maurer deals with applying Kaizen principles on a more personal level. You may find it an interesting read.

About the Picture: Port Canaveral, Florida.


Raza said...

Nice topic and well said about Kizen.

I have had some fascinating experience on the same subject.
We started implementing Kizen processes in our aircraft turbine engine manufacturing company about 18 years ago. It was a remarkable process at times but in later years we saw it as not totally to our needs so we switched to ACE (Achieving Competitive Excellence) which works with the concept of “constant improvement” to suite ones need.

I had gone through Kizen training and was co-chair on two Kizen projects. Kizen does bring sudden change in the process or work environment. The idea is that the exiting process is mapped then new ideas sought from team members and experts to improve it, be it a minor or a radical change.

What I found working in Kizen teams that some people who do a certain job, where Kizen was to be applied, were reluctant to change. On the other hand there were people who worked on those jobs for many years had great ideas to improve it but never have raised their voices before for whatever reasons. It was interesting to note that since Kizen teams were comprised of people from different fields so new ideas were generated.

The most important thing, which I found, was that once the Kizen process finalized and implemented it should always be followed line by line at least in the begging. Most of the time a notion comes from so called experts, who are affected by the process that in their opinion the process will not work. They are naive to say it before implementing it. In one of the first time implemented project I heard a complaint that the process was not working. I did my investigation and found out that the few steps of the process were skipped by the “expert person” thinking as unnecessary that caused the process down the line to go haywire. Upon following all the steps of the process and minute detail, it came out alright.


Irfan said...

Thank you Raza for sharing your experience. I hope we have a better success with Kaizen in our institute.

I was talking to a friend recently. He is an executive at Dell. He has implemented all sort of processes at his work place. He passed a most interesting comment, he said "You can learn any thing but eventually we follow what works the best for us"

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