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Kaizen Blitz 101: Top 7 tips to blitz your workplace

Are you under pressure in your workplace to get rapid results but you feel stuck in a rut?

Can you not see the waste through all the white noise?

Are you too busy doing what you have always done, to stop, reflect and work out how to:

  • Deliver exactly what your customers want when they want it

  • Improve and smooth processes

  • Save time and money

  • Stop the waste

  • Inject some energy back into your team

A workplace blitz might be your answer. Kaizen means roughly "change for good". Companies that practice kaizen have a culture where they are making lots of small changes over time which eventually add up to a big improvement. A "Kaizen Blitz" is making these small improvements quickly. Getting improvement over time, quickly, is an oxymoron but an improvement blitz might be just what you need to get back on track and on your way to a kaizen culture.

Blitzes get big results, fast.

It’s easier than you might think, but there are some things that you must get right for your blitz to work.

Here are our 7 top tips for performing a successful workplace blitz:

1. Think long term

Your Kaizen Blitz must be linked to your strategy and its goals. If you don’t have a strategy then you better do that before doing your blitz.

If you can show how the blitz is working towards business goals, it will make it so much easier to keep people motivated.

Efficiency Works’ Tip:

  • Write down what business goals the blitz will help achieve, with reference to your business strategic plan.

2. Cover off the 5Ps - Preparation and planning prevents poor performance

We’re pretty sure that this is an old military saying but it is just as relevant for a Kaizen Blitz. It should be obvious, but make sure that all logistics are sorted out first. If you are going to do a blitz, your team is going to be diverted from normal duties, probably for a few days.

Lock in the answers to these questions before you schedule your blitz:

  • How are you going to cover the usual day to day team tasks?

  • Do you have a suitable venue your team can work from without being interrupted? You will also need to be able to access the work areas easily so that you can “go see” how the work is done. Getting the balance right between these two requirements can be tricky and needs to be thought through before the event.

  • Safety – has everyone been inducted? Do they have the right PPE? Do we need to do a risk assessment?

  • What dates and times are the team expected for? If you are working multiple shifts – do you need to observe the late shifts? How can we get all shifts involved?

  • Can we see the real work being done?

  • Do we have enough resources\consumables?

  • Is pre-training on lean principles needed?

Efficiency Works’ Tip:

  • Answer these questions to cover off the 5Ps so you can get started on your blitz.

3. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

To be a success, your blitz must improve things from the point of view of the customer.

Many people make the mistake of improving a process from their own point of view from within their own organisational silo. If your blitz doesn’t improve things from the perspective of the customer then any improvement is an illusion. In fact a good blitz may result in the work of an individual team getting harder rather than easier. This is fine as long as the value stream of the whole process is improved and the value flows better and in more efficient ways to the customer from a whole of business perspective.

Efficiency Works’ Tip:

  • Make sure you understand what your customers value. If you’re unsure you could, do a quick spot poll while you are talking to customers about other matters. Ask them - how can things be better for them?

4. Blitz what’s important, not what’s easy

Don’t just target the low hanging fruit. You want to make sure that your blitz is important to the business. Doing a good job in step 1 goes a long way to achieving this. Doing something important means that you will have no problem motivating people to be involved and do a good job. We find work teams are easily tempted to do something easy so that they can be surer of a result.

If the blitz didn’t deliver a result that made a real difference, people will wonder what was the point. Of course if you are lucky enough to have something that is both important and easy to work on then go for it.

Efficiency Works’ Tips:

  • Decide what one area is worrying you most because it is slowing you down, reporting cost overruns or generally not performing, and focus on this for your blitz.

  • Document the blitz results and process so you have a good business case that you can reference to gather support for your next initiative.

5. Measure results

When you get to the end of the blitz it’s important to be able to evaluate the success of the event. You must be able to do this with facts. The better the facts you have the more useful the blitz will be to attaining your long term goals. Lots of objective measures are possible depending on the style of blitz you have done.

The best measure in business however is dollars.

Efficiency Works’ Tips:

  • Nominate someone on the team to take before and after photos of the workspace

  • Document before and after lead times

  • Get the company accountant involved early and brief them to track the dollar savings for you. Ask them what numbers they need from you to make it a water tight case to prove your dollar savings.

6. Use the small win to motivate people for the big picture

Small wins are a great way to keep people motivated to change. You can use that psychological fact to your benefit by making sure that you not only measure the results as we recommended above but that you publicise the results.

Efficiency Works’ Tips:

  • A case study, either formal or informal that you can refer back to in future can be used to gain support for your efforts and help decrease resistance to your next initiative.

  • It is important that the blitz is the first step towards a culture of continuous improvement. The end game is a continuously improving business.

7. Squash blitz fear

Because it involves challenging everyday truths, teams can find workplace change scary and confronting. We commonly find team members are worried at first. They ask themselves:

  • “Will I get into trouble?”

  • “Why didn’t I think of this myself?”

  • “Will I get sacked for needing help?”

  • “Will I hurt people’s feelings?”

  • “Will I make myself redundant?”

A well-facilitated team will soon relax when they see these fears are unfounded and that they have worked their way from the current undesirable state to the new and improved version.

Efficiency Works’ Tip:

  • The answers to your workplace problems are probably right under your nose. But to flush them out, get an experienced facilitator to act as coach.

We enjoy working with both teams and individuals from all types of workplaces. We are happy to arrange a quick chat on the phone or via email if you think you might need assistance.

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