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Probably NOT a Good Example of Kaizen in this Picture

by Mark Graban on February 2, 2012 · 2 comments

While this photo looks like a dangerous situation, I guess we can call it a light-hearted look at a questionable improvement, via the wonderful FailBlog.org and its ThereIFixedIt.com site (photo link).

white trash repairs there i fixed it after minutes it doubles as a heater Probably NOT a Good Example of Kaizen in this Picture lean
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What would happen in an environment where people were using a Visual Idea Board, as described in the upcoming book Healthcare Kaizen?

An employee might fill out an Idea Card, as I’ve mocked up below:

bulb card 500x375 Probably NOT a Good Example of Kaizen in this Picture lean

Let’s say an employee brought this card to you. You would talk about the card and thank the employee for identifying a problem statement. Maybe we’re buying bulbs in retail packaging that’s hard to open and there has to be a way to address that. Now, the idea of installing the bulb while still in the packaging… this is why Kaizen involves at least a quick discussion with a supervisor. It’s not meant to be a bureaucratic process, but sometimes Kaizen requires the input and experience of a supervisor.

The supervisor (or a teammate) might question if leaving the packaging on might create a fire risk. You might decide NOT to try that idea (safety risk outweighs time savings), but you’re not done.

In a traditional suggestion box approach, the focus is on the idea. So we’d say “no” to the idea – it’s not safe, it would be deemed a “bad idea.”

But with Kaizen, we honor the identification of a PROBLEM – the packaging is hard to open. The role of the supervisor is to work with the employee to find something that can be done. Maybe we need to buy bulbs that come in a type of packaging that’s easier to open? The supervisor certainly shouldn’t say “Hey, dummy, are you trying to burn the place down?”

Kaizen is about collaboration and coaching toward solutions, not accepting or rejecting ideas like a judge.

blog photo Probably NOT a Good Example of Kaizen in this Picture leanAbout LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as the new Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Innovation and Improvement Services for KaiNexus.

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pinit fg en rect gray 28 Probably NOT a Good Example of Kaizen in this Picture lean
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Al Norval February 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Although tongue-in-cheek, this is a great example of good leadership behaviors. A quick review review of the kaizen card, allows the supervisor the opportunity to become a teacher and use that opportunity to teach the employee about safety and about the kaizen way of solving problems.


2 Mark Graban
February 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Yes, one of the greatest insights I’ve gotten in my Kaizen education is the idea that a “bad idea” is really an opportunity to coach, mentor, develop, education… not reject, ridicule, or punish.


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