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
    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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