Rapid improvement events, also known as Kaizen events, involve a small team devoting 100% of their time over three to five days to analyzing and improving a narrowly defined targeted issue or process. Rapid improvement events are used to augment, not replace, daily continuous improvement. We think that the start of a brand new year is an excellent time to deploy this problem-solving technique. Perhaps after reading the reasons why, you’ll agree.
There’s Got to Be a Problem That Shouldn’t See Another Year
You may have heard that if you toss a frog into a pot of boiling water, he’ll jump right out, but if you put him into a pot of cold water and gradually turn up the heat, he won’t notice the temperature change until it’s too late. I think many organizations are a bit like this frog. They have problems that outsiders would see as glaring, but they are so used to them and know the workarounds so well, they hardly notice. These are the types of issues that really shouldn’t carry over into 2016. A rapid improvement event is a great way to turn up the heat quickly and get out of the pot.
Practice Makes Perfect
Problem-solving skills are like muscles. If you don’t use them, they atrophy. If you haven’t conducted a rapid improvement event in a while, get the year started off with some exercise for your team. If you’ve never done one, a live event is a great way to introduce the concept and get everyone used to working together in this way.
Signal Management Support for Improvement Work
Because a rapid improvement event requires that resources be devoted fully to the effort, temporarily prioritizing it above other work, it requires buy-in and support from management. These events are also highly visible, making them an effective way to show the organization that leadership is willing to endorse and sustain a culture that values improvement. That seems like a great way to start the year.
Begin the Year with Engagement
Rapid improvement events are valuable techniques for getting employees engaged and excited about the possibilities for positive change. Participants become emotionally invested in the success of the event and are often surprisingly willing to go above and beyond to get it done. Additionally, improvement events are opportunities for people who might not do it often to take on a leadership role. When given this chance, members of your team may surprise you.
We hope you all enjoyed the holidays and had a chance to reflect on the successes and challenges of 2015. Now that attention is turning to the year ahead, consider a rapid improvement event as a way to get the year started off on the path to a more productive, efficient and profitable future.