A Kaizen Event Story


By Jean Cunningham:

Just a quick story of a kaizen event….this one was in a service company. They wanted to improve cash flow by getting receivable more quickly. By mapping the current process with a few of the sales people, the accounts receivable clerk, and two interested others, in one day we were able to see that we:

  1. Did not have structure process for each activity
  2. Did not have clear customer supplier relationship
  3. Did not have a clear flow
  4. But were willing to improve through experimentation.

We had a process that had 3 value adding steps and 30 in total. But since we looped through the process so many times, we really had about 200 steps!

So we created a clear structure of gathering all key information up front (I call that “Once and be done”) and then ensuring we made contact very early in the process with our key supplier relationship….the accounts payable clerk at the customer!

So the steps were radically reduced, but even better, the entire team now understands what work was being performed, and why the new process is better.

Time will tell if they see the cash flow improvement they expect, but they already know they want to keep using the Kaizen approach.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

1 Comment
  1. Tricia Harris says

    Hi Mark,

    We are currently working on a value stream mapping blog post for service businesses, so this is an interesting post – glad to have found your blog.

    We recently wrote an article about running kaizen events called “How to Run Kaizen Events to Improve Your Business Processes” in case you or any of your readers are interested.


    Thanks for the info!

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