Kaizen Blitz is a term used for running a one-time special event, normally one week long, to drastically make changes in a process. Kaizen Blitz is really a Kaikaku - a radical change while Kaizen means small incremental changes.
I met both Yoshiki Iwata and Chihiro Nakao in Japan at Toyota subsidiaries and brought
them to America to run the first Kaizen Blitz at Jake Brake, a Danaher company in
We initially called it ‘Five Days and One Night,’ meaning that you would learn and work for five days and get very little sleep during the week.
Iwata gave the initial lecture on a Monday morning, teaching the principles of the Toyota Production System. The next day we all went into the factory in teams of around 10 people. Each team looked at one manufacturing process with the goal of rearranging the machines into manufacturing cells. We looked at the process carefully, each person taking one part of the process to study in detail. We calculated the cycle time, the time it was taking to do each job and then we determined the takt time, the time it should take to produce the product Just-In-Time. We especially looked at improving the value adding ratio and the elimination of wastes. We were also taught how to complete standard work sheets (now called Value Stream Mapping).
Standard work sheets precisely show all of the tasks of a job including walking, and the time necessary for each task. They also show the sequence of tasks, jigs and tools needed, and the location of stock. They are used to show both the current process and the future process with cycle times and takt times. The Standard Work sheets are used to map out the new processes to make sure that every operation will be done within takt time. Standard Work sheets detail the motion of the operator, the sequence of operations and how long it takes to do each task. It is used to determine opportunities for improvement. As we improve we revise the Standard Worksheets.
On Wednesday morning we went into the plant and completely mapped out five different processes showing the cycle times and the takt times. This third day we started to plan how we would move the machines, how we would position the workers, and listed the many problems that had to be solved for the process to be run smoothly on takt time. Problems immediately rose to the surface.
On Thursday morning, after staying up after midnight moving the machines, all the participants began to work with the Jake Brake employees to explain how they now were going to work in their new cells. Many of the workers looked to be in a state of ‘shock,’ not knowing what was to be expected of them. The workers were not part of the teams. They really had no idea that overnight their work was going to change so radically.
For most of the engineers and managers in the workshop the most exciting aspect was the standard worksheets and rearranging the factory into work cells, but to me it was Jidoka which gave us an opportunity to look differently at the human being in the work environment.
It was a glorious event, probably, one of the most
important moments of transition in American manufacturing history. The
amazing thing is that it worked. The ex-Toyota managers leading the
training had spent years working under Mr. Taiichi Ohno, former
Toyota, and Dr. Shigeo Shingo, independent consultant and the real brains behind Lean. This workshop was used effectively with Toyota and their suppliers to drive Just-In-Time (Lean) throughout their organization.
Bill Waddell at Evolving Excellence
Chuck Frey at Innovation Weblog
Hal Macomber at Reforming Project Management
Joe Ely at Learning about Lean
John Miller at Panta Rei
Mark Graban at Lean Manufacturing Blog