Sustaining the results of Kaizen itself is a continuous process as systems continue to evolve to meet business objectives of the company. Growth, expansion and diversification initiatives introduce new variables in the system. Technology advancements require an upgrade both in terms of machinery and system software, and a new set of technical staff to handle them. Basically any type of change to the existing system needs to fall in line with rest of kaizen-optimized processes already in place.
Sustaining Kaizen Implementation – Few Tried and Tested Methods
Understandably each Kaizen implementation is unique and so will be the efforts taken to sustain the momentum of change and improvement. Making sure that one doesn’t miss out on tried and tested methods that have proved beneficial in other instances helps maximize benefits. However partnering with a Lean Consulting firm or a Kaizen Consultant can help gain better insights on sustaining Kaizen implementations.
Kaizen At Grassroots
While top management buy-ins are always necessary, establishing Kaizen focused daily routines at the grass root levels sets the pace for the entire organization. People manning the last level of the organizational hierarchy are the ones getting their hands dirty and they are the first ones who can sense problems before they snowball. Improvement in daily operations however must make meaningful value adds at a higher level as well.
There is always scope for improvement, even in the best of offerings or processes. While it’s okay to celebrate a successful kaizen event, being satisfied with the results will automatically prevent further action. Cultivating a mindset that is always battling status quo, happy with results yes, but still in quest for a better solution is often the key to sustaining kaizen.
Recognize Kaizen Efforts
Kaizen efforts or suggestions however small, if relevant, can go a long way in improving process efficiencies and such efforts are better recognized. Rewards, though welcome are time bound and their value eroded with time, while public recognition for even a small yet significant contribution stays on.
Apply Kaizen to Kaizen
Simply means that Kaizen once implemented cannot be forgotten, there could be several loop holes that can still be unearthed and plugged. Tracking results or improvements in a systematic manner is a must to verify the effectiveness of the Kaizen exercise. Comparing metrics and questioning the reasons for deviations if any, can evaluate the processes and refine them accordingly for better results.
Why Kaizen Is Not Sustainable?
While we just saw some tips on how best to sustain results of Kaizen implementation, understanding some of key reasons why companies fail to maintain momentum of improvement will help avoid these traps as well.
Lack of continued support and commitment from top management can threaten sustained Kaizen initiatives, and so does the lack of suitable metrics to track improvements. Metrics to measure progress must be controllable and traceable; the results much reach the entire organization, and must make sense as well.
Failure to invest adequate time and funds for implementation Kaizen or professional development of employees (training, re-skilling, defining career path etc.,) is bound to limit the scope of the project.
Encouraging employees at all levels to pro-actively identify avenues of improvements in their daily routine and taking the necessary action to bring about these enhancements can help sustain Kaizen implementation across the organization.