Project Kaizen: Quick & Easy Kaizen


Today's topic for the Project Kaizen group blogging effort is the idea of applying “quick and easy kaizen” to a project setting.

“These are improvements that affect the ease of one person doing a job and within ones authority to make a change.”

I believe the inspiration for this comes from Norman Bodek and his writings on kaizen. Here is Norman's new blog and a link to my recent interview with him (I still need to post Part 3!!)

Also, check out Norman's books on this topic, including All You Gotta Do Is Ask and The Idea Generator: Quick and Easy Kaizen


One thing that comes to mind about project environments is the coffee area. Why is that? Well, for one, the coffee often tastes horrible and is often dirty or poorly maintained (this is true in manufacturing and health care environments too!!).

I often use the coffee area in the break room as a teaching lab for lean principles. We brainstorm problems about the area and focus on making changes immediately. You say you can't find Splenda? Let's create a standard location for that. Some people make the coffee too weak? Let's create and post a standard process for making coffee (use three scoops, etc.).

I find this a valuable teaching location because hardly anyway is defensive about the coffee pot. Normally, the problem is that nobody has “ownership” of it and it shows. Use a simple area like this to practice brainstorming, asking the “5 Why's” of lean problem solving, and to practice doing something, rather than creating lists of things to do.

You can also point out longer-term fixes that might not be of the “Quick & Easy Kaizen” variety. Maybe you should ask purchasing to buy pre-measured filter packs of coffee, which would save time and reduce variation in the process?

So, if you're in a project environment, there are always things to improve. You can practice these skills in a non-threatening place, the break room. You won't really be impacting your customer directly with this, nor will you save the company, but you're building skills and methods that you can use for what really is important.

I'm going to follow up this post with a personal “kitchen kaizen” story.

Check out the other group bloggers to see what they have to say on today's topic: Bill Waddell at Evolving Excellence, Chuck Frey at Innovation Weblog, Hal Macomber at Reforming Project Management, Joe Ely at Learning about Lean, Norman Bodek at the Kaikaku Blog ,and Jon Miller at Panta Rei.

Please check out my main blog page at

The RSS feed content you are reading is copyrighted by the author, Mark Graban.

, , , on the author's copyright.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articleProject Kaizen: "Workstream" Kaizen
Next articleKitchen Kaizen — The Coffee Pot
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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.