The Case for Project Kaizen


Here is my posting for the Monday “Project Kaizen” group blogging effort, the topic being “Why Project Kaizen?”

Why wouldn't the concept of “kaizen“, or continuous improvement, apply to any activity in or organization? While there are many definitions of lean, one definition that's spread by Toyota people, as well as Norm Bodek, is that lean can be defined as 1) relentless focus on eliminating waste and 2) having respect for people. In any setting, whether it is manufacturing, a business support process (such as accounts payable), health care, or a project team, these general concepts can apply and can drive success.

If you can tolerate waste, don't need to improve, and don't want to respect people, then kaizen isn't for you. Rather than asking “why kaizen”, I'd ask “why NOT kaizen?” Even if you think you have an organization that's “working well” today, you should still be driving improvements. If you're not improving, you're getting worse! By respecting people and allowing them to grow and develop, they will take pride in their work and will naturally drive improvement when given the chance. My challenge to you would be to think about how those two simple concepts apply to your project team before you undertake formal kaizen events or attempt to implement any specific lean tools.

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Tuesday: Workgroup kaizen

Our attention will be on making improvements for sub-team members performing the same type of work.
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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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