A Kaizen meeting is ideal for continuous process improvement to occur. This helps a company anticipate the constant and rapid changes that happen in the world. By doing this, the company can anticipate the competition, as well as the wants and needs of its customers.
We will teach you everything you need to know to conduct your own Kaizen meetings. With it, you will not only improve your company’s performance, but also increase your employees’ motivation. With this method, you will be constantly improving your company by focusing on your employees and creating a standard in the methodologies used.
- The Kaizen method focuses on creating continuous improvement. This can help your company stay ahead of the competition, improve the quality of your products and/or services and standardize your company’s methodologies.
- Kaizen meetings follow specific principles that help organize your company so that it improves in all aspects. They also require planning and organization to be carried out successfully.
- There are several benefits when conducting Kaizen-style workshops. These often vary based on the company’s specific needs and objectives.
What you should know about the Kaizen method
The word Kaizen is of Japanese origin, meaning “change for the better” or “change to improve”. This methodology is based on continuous improvement, focusing mainly on improving in small steps, not requiring large investments, needing the participation of all employees, and implementing improvements quicker(1). Below, we will explain everything you need to know about the Kaizen method in order to improve your company.
What is a Kaizen meeting?
Before setting up a Kaizen meeting with your team, you should know what it is about. As mentioned, it is a meeting to encourage continuous improvement within the company. It is a workshop that lasts approximately one week, where you gather your team to discuss specific problems and implement solutions right away.
The difference between Kaizen and a traditional method is that Kaizen focuses on people and process improvement, establishing criteria to maintain a standard of work in your company. A traditional system focuses on improving technologies or bringing innovation to achieve better and immediate results (2). In contrast, Kaizen generates long-lasting results.
We want your company to become self-sufficient so that it continually strives for improvement, maintaining established processes and always looking for ways to improve (2).
Why are Kaizen meetings important?
In a market subject to globalization and the constant growth of competition, companies must continually improve their strategies to remain at the top of the market. This is where Kaizen meetings come in. They are important because they lead your company to continuously improve in all aspects, such as the quality of your products and services (3).
Adriana Garza Elizondo – “Kaizen is a world-class tool that helps companies to continuously improve, whose goal is quality, competitiveness and productivity”
Kaizen workshops can be a great tool for your company when it comes to outperforming itself and the competition. Additionally, it can help generate a more inclusive culture where your employees can be heard and encouraged to develop their self-discipline, creating an environment of harmony and communication (4). The Kaizen method is important because it can:
- Help you measure the progress of implemented improvements
- Prevent human error
- Eliminate waste
- Organize your company
- Create a standard in all processes in order to ensure their quality
What are the principles of Kaizen?
Kaizen has five principles called the five S’s: sieri, seiton, seirso, seiketsu and shitsuke. The five words are of Japanese origin. They mean (in the same order): eliminating the unnecessary, establishing order, striving for cleanliness, caring for uniform and personal safety, and being disciplined and respecting the rules (1). These principles are based on the belief that continuous improvement cannot be achieved in a disorganized, cluttered, and dirty space.
How to carry out a Kaizen event?
As with any activity you want to be successful, you must plan it. However, before you start planning, you must consider a few things. To ensure you get the best results for your company, you must have the support of top management. Because they must approve the proposed improvements. Once you have their commitment, you can start getting employee participation (2).
Afterward, you can start with the details of the event. We recommend it lasts one week. During these days you will have to train your team, they must analyze and make proposals to solve the problem, propose a solution and finally present it to management (2). Next, we will tell you in detail what the structure of a Kaizen meeting is.
What is the structure of a Kaizen meeting?
As we mentioned, a Kaizen event has a minimum duration of one week. During this week, the team will be one hundred percent focused on the workshop. All tasks unrelated to the event will be left out of it. We also recommend including people from different departments to enrich the proposals. Team members have the same weight regardless of the position they hold in the company (1). Now, we will explain the structure in sections.
Pre-event planning is crucial to ensure the success of the event. Some points to keep in mind before you start are setting a date when everyone can attend and making sure you have a location reserved for the event. Once you have that sorted, you can begin planning what you would like to be discussed at the event.
When it comes to the topics of discussion, we recommend creating a list to ensure that all points are discussed.
It would be ideal to create an agenda for each day. This can include conversation points, breaks, and a menu. Furthermore, you can include the expected outcome of each day. Finally, make sure you have all the materials your team might need during the event to create a creative environment (5).
Overall evaluation of current status and brainstorming
Once you complete the planning stage, you move on to evaluate the current state of the company in order to find points that need improvement. At the beginning of the Kaizen meeting, you explain to your team how the workshop will be carried out during the next few days. You must make it clear that this method is in search of continuous improvement. Additionally, you explain the group dynamics and the problems that are being sought to improve.
Usually, at this point, brainstorming begins. The team analyzes the problem and everyone can suggest a solution (1). Typically, this step takes place on the second day. Another technique that can also generate ideas is the five why’s. This helps to identify the reason for the failure that is happening (5).
Selection and presentation of the improvement plan
During the next two days, select the solution that best solves the problem. Your team should discuss the proposal, everyone must be heard, and members must have an open mind. In this way, you create an environment where communication is encouraged (1). Also, members find the confidence to share their ideas and contribute to the proposal.
Once you confirm the proposal, the presentation the team has to make is ready. Just like the team members, the management members must have an open mind and be willing to contribute to the idea by showing support to the group (1). The aim of the proposal is to get rid of waste, i.e., everything that does not add value (2).
Kaizen meeting follow-up
The follow-up of the event is based on the metrics established to track the effect of the proposal that was implemented. Also, as it is about continuous improvement, new solutions are sought for different problems that your company may have.
As there is always room for improvement, this type of event can be done as often as you find it necessary.
Once it is done and becomes a standard philosophy in the company, you will see how your employees’ mindset changes and Kaizen becomes part of the company’s way of being.
Tips for an optimal Kaizen meeting
Now that you are ready to carry out your Kaizen meeting, we want to give you some tips so that you don’t forget anything important. By completing these actions, you will get closer to your goals and obtain the benefits of using the Kaizen method with your team. Please keep in mind that you can do more than one event if you do not see the desired results, so do not worry, let’s go for it!
Clear and measurable objectives
Before, during, and after the event, the objectives must be clear and easy to measure. That means having clear goals that you want to achieve at the event, to be more specific, having daily objectives. The proposal that will be made must have clear and measurable objectives. This way, it is easier to follow up, and you can verify the effectiveness of the workshop.
Read more about: Meeting Objectives
Total commitment prior to the event
As we already mentioned, you need the commitment and support of both management and the members who will take part in the workshop. It is a long event that must be executed in a serious manner. It will be even more beneficial to the company if you get a team that is ready to provide feedback, willing to work as a team, and focused only on the meeting. Likewise, this type of exercise will help members to believe in themselves and develop a sense of self-discipline (4).
No distractions outside of the event
You should make sure that there are no distractions outside of the event. For this reason, we recommend reserving a place away from the office, where your team can focus on the workshop. Additionally, they should not worry about anything related to their work throughout the duration of the event. It requires not only their commitment needed but their full attention throughout the week. This way, you will get better results (3).
Documenting the event
Taking into account that there is human error, we recommend that you have several methods when documenting everything discussed throughout the event. This can include recording the entire meeting, taking pictures of what is written on the whiteboards, taking notes of important points, and making a summary of what was said after each day (2). This way, no information that may be valuable is lost.
It is important to celebrate achievements, whether small or big. That is why we recommend that at the end of each day, you make a small celebration (5). Here you can use your creativity. It does not necessarily have to be something big. We also recommend that you celebrate the end of the event and congratulate the team for their hard work.
Benefits of Kaizen meetings
These can vary based on the type of company that is using this method. Therefore, we are going to list the typical benefits:
- Increase in employee productivity
- Utilization of available space
- Increase in product or service quality
- Decrease in human errors due to work standards
- Greater flexibility within the company
Trying new approaches, methodologies and ideologies can be beneficial to your company. Still, it can be scary to take the plunge and do something unfamiliar. With everything we have told you about Kaizen, we hope you are ready to plan a workshop and put it into practice. With the questions, we answered and the tips we added, we are sure you have all the information you need to run a successful event.
Read more about Effective Meetings
Kaizen meetings will help you focus on your employees and on improving processes. By improving these two factors, you will realize that your team can improve and provide the best quality to your customers. Not only will you be benefiting your employees, but it will help you outperform your competition and stay ahead of the trends. By having a continuous improvement perspective, you will be able to achieve higher goals every day (2).
1. Eugenio J. Kaizen: When improvement becomes reality [Internet]. [cited 2022O].
2. Garza A. Kaizen, a continuous improvement [Internet]. Ciencia UANL. Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon; 2005 [cited 2022].
3. Gallegos H. Kaizen system in management [Internet]. View of Kaizen System in administration. UANL; 2007 [cited 2022].
4. Garcia JL, Opreso M. Benefits of Kaizen in Industry [Internet]. Cuba Industry International Convention; 2014 [cited 2022].
5. Calvello M. Kaizen meetings: What they are and how to run one [Internet]. Fellow.app. Fellow; 2021 [cited 2022].