Kaizen events, also called Rapid Improvement Events, involve a team dedicating all of their energy for three to five days on solving a specific challenge or implementing targeted improvements. They are resource intensive, but effective tools for organizations that are dedicated to consistent and constant improvement.
Because they are so quick and consuming, it is essential to be well prepared. In fact, planning for the event should get as much care and attention as the event itself. Our clients who have been successful with event planning have found that it helps to have a standard pre-event template that can be used every time a Kaizen event occurs. This ensures that everyone is using the same standards and that the essential boxes are checked. The best improvement management software solutions allow you to set up your Kaizen Event Templates within the system to make it easy for everyone to access and report relevant information.
Of course, each organization is different, but here are the elements that we recommend considering when you set up your rapid improvement templates.
Kaizen events should be done in conjunction with the strategic plan for improvement. That’s why it makes sense to have some structure assigned to every event so they can be analyzed as a set.
- Topic – What function or process does this event address?
- Strategic Initiative – Which high-level strategic goal does this event support?
- Category – You might segment your improvement projects into categories for easier reporting. For example, you might have a category for regulatory compliance or communications related improvement work.
- Priority – Is this event of urgent, high, or medium importance? Some organizations rank the priority of each event on a scale from one to ten.
The next section of your template should lay out the charter for this event. The following elements are usually included:
- Event drivers and current state issues – What is the reason for the event and what problems are occurring due to the current process?
- Goals and objectives – Be as specific as possible about what success looks like.
- Deliverables – What artifacts will be created during the event? In most cases, one of the deliverables will be a new Standard Work document.
- Possible obstacles – Think ahead about what challenges might arise and formulate a plan to address them if needed.
- Location(s) – Where will the event take place?
The Kaizen template should have a section that identifies the team members who will be involved. Be sure to include the following roles:
- Facilitator – The facilitator has responsibility for managing the event and ensuring that it is duly documented.
- Executive Sponsor(s) – The executive sponsor will sanction the event and provide resource approval as needed.
- Team Members – You can find more details about who should be included in a Kaizen event in this post, but it is very important to be sure to include the people who actually perform the process to be improved in your event.
Dates and Timeline
The template should include all relevant dates for the event. It is also helpful to have a timeline that tracks your pre-event efforts.
Files and Links
Effective event planning involves gathering and sharing all of the available information that will be useful to the team during the event. This might include the current Standard work, value stream maps, control charts for the current state, process diagrams, photographs, or any other relevant content.
This section of the template outlines each step that needs to be taken before the event and assigns responsibility. Ideally, you will also track the status of each task and receive automated notifications if a due date is missed. The tasks will vary based on the nature of the event but common to-do items include:
- Get final approval from the executive sponsor
- Create the event charter
- Finalize event schedule
- Select team members and leaders
- Create the documentation package
- Set up and prepare for the Kick-off Meeting
- Gather resources and prepare the facility
If the template you will use for planning your Kaizen event includes all of this information, you will be setting yourself up for an effective and impactful few days.
Check back for Part II of this topic in which we will lay out the