Applying Good Project Management Practices
to Your Kaizen Events

by Sandra Gauvin

Getting the right people involved in Kaizen Events

A kaizen event is a focused, short-term project that improves a process.  But like any project, regardless of the duration, you should always use good project management principles to lead your team to success.  One of the first steps is to identify who should participate on the team…

I had a recent conversation with a project sponsor of a kaizen event and they expressed their concern over the amount of action items that were being delegated to team members.  It left very little time for people to do their core job and added to everyone’s frustration level.

Further into the conversation you realized that process owners and stakeholders hadn’t been correctly identified, so there was a big disconnect between the people that should be attending the events versus who was actually attending.

People that were assigned actions, would spend time afterwards searching for the right person to give the action to. Here’s the kicker, the original person that was assigned the action was still responsible for reporting the status of that action…that meant they had to run around before every meeting to find out the status.

It’s at this point of the conversation I wanted to scream ‘stop the insanity’, because the event leader had created a non-value added role of the middleman to report status updates.  It turns out the project sponsor also didn’t know who the process owner or stakeholders were because roles and responsibilities had never been clearly defined.

Unfortunately, after  less than one year, kaizen events had become synonymous to something negative.  The lesson here is to always follow good project management practices, which includes identifying the right process owner and key stakeholders.  If none can be identified or it’s unclear, then you have your first kaizen event…defining roles and responsibilities of that process!




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