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.”
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.
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