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Lean, Process Improvement

Kaizen Blitz: Introduction and words of caution

A Kaizen Blitz is a rapid improvement workshop designed to produce results/approaches to discrete process issues within a few days.  It is a way for teams to carry out structured, but creative problem solving and process improvement, in a workshop environment, over a short timescale.

Normally, it is a focussed five-day event to deliver specific performance improvements (but it could be shorter than five days).  Participants include all the right people to analyse the problem, develop improvement solutions and begin to implement them.

Management must commit to the time and resources required, and to empower the Blitz team to “do what is needed” to achieve improvements.

Tangible benefits are usually visible within the period of the Blitz and are certainly visible within weeks of the Blitz.

The three key stages of a Blitz are:

  1. Preparation
  2. The Blitz Event
  3. Follow-up

An example 5-day Blitz programme is shown below.

Typical 5 Day Kaizen Blitz

Typical 5 Day Kaizen Blitz


Kaizen Blitz – some words of caution

A Kaizen Blitz is not a “silver bullet”.  It has severe limitations when looking at extensive, complex, cross-functional systems where the chance of addressing true, systemic, root causes in a week is unlikely to be possible.

Wherever the process/problem can’t be easily defined, or is associated with multiple root causes, a Blitz is unlikely to be of much use.

Lean thinking requires taking a whole system view of organisations, processes and performance.  Performance issues are usually caused by inappropriate management policy or the adoption of poor targets/measures (remember Deming said that 95% of quality problems are caused by management).

The benefits

Where a Blitz event can be tightly defined and when there is clear scope to implement changes quickly, it can lead to significant, measureable, improvements.  We have used them successfully to reduce cost/waste, reduce cycle-times and to design new customer-focussed processes.  They work in the public sector, in service organisations and in manufacturing.

Just remember, running Kaizen Blitz events is not the same as implementing Lean!

Download the full article: Kaizen Blitz.


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