Daily Kaizen � Beyond the Event

Daily kaizen -- Fieldbook definition:

"Daily kaizen is small, process- or point-focused, continuous improvement that is conducted by engaged and enabled employees in their everyday work. Principle-driven lean enterprises apply a combination of kaizen events, projects and daily kaizen. Daily kaizen opportunities (problems) are readily identified by workers using simple robust lean management systems and by a pragmatic comparison of the current state with the envisioned ideal state. By applying common sense and learning developed in kaizen events, training classes and direct application, employees, as individuals and within teams, engage in PDCA through the use/execution of actionable, low bureaucracy suggestion systems, mini-kaizen events, kaizen circle activities, 'just-do-its� and the like."
(Kaizen Event Fieldbook, 2010)

The Fieldbook is primarily about kaizen events and the related multi-phase standard work. However, the event, really more kaikaku (Japanese for radical improvement) than kaizen, does not, cannot, and should not replace true kaizen -- small, cumulative continuous improvements.

The most effective delivery mechanism for small continuous improvement is daily kaizen (see definition at right). But, this does not mean that an organization must choose one over the other. The reality is that daily kaizen and kaizen events are synergistic. As reflected in the figure below, we must do BOTH. Of course, the balance or mix of the two evolves as the enterprise navigates the lean transformation path.

Events, properly planned and executed, drive tremendous, sustainable results, "prime" the organization for further lean learning and deployment and establish a foundation and capability for daily kaizen. The typically heavy initial emphasis on kaizen events during a lean implementation effort must eventually give way to an emphasis on daily kaizen application with its grassroots process focus and cultural and performance transforming activities.

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