The success of a kaizen project is closely correlated to its proper, thorough planning. But there is also a need to avoid going into a kaizen project with pre-conceived notions of specific changes.
Those two opposing factors can create a situation where a team starts diving into a kaizen project and realizes that there is a better option to get bigger gains. For example, a team may be doing a kaizen project on the collections process, and realize that their time would be used more effectively working on the methods of doing credit checks. Or they may discover that the goals were set too aggressively, or maybe not aggressively enough.
Be Flexible in Your Kaizen Project
In these cases, the team leader needs to exhibit some flexibility. The planning process is imperfect. It makes sense that when several people start diving into the details of an operation process and turning over all the rocks hiding the hidden processes, they may uncover an opportunity that the team leader did not identify while doing the kaizen charter. Those instances call for some flexibility on the part of the team leader.
When making changes, the team leader should weigh several factors.
Is the team capable of doing the adjusted kaizen project?
Are there any pitfalls to adjusting the scope or boundaries?
Does the revised kaizen project require any additional resources or coordination?
Are there already plans to improve the other process?
This list is far from complete. It is intended only to give an idea of the types of things to consider.
But I do have one word of warning. Make sure that big changes to a kaizen project are the exception rather than the rule. If every project has some major changes, it is a signal that there is a flaw in the kaizen planning process.
So, what do you do to avoid problems in kaizen planning? I’d love it if you’d share your tips and tricks for getting kaizen project planning done right the first time.