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FAQ

Q1:As Kaizen activities are made and efficiency improves, what happens to those workers who become superfluous?

Q2:As standard work becomes part of the operating routine and the operations are simplified, donft workers become almost robot-like?
Q3:My company is a special case in that we manufacture many types of products.The sales volume of each product is low, and in such a case, how can we implement one piece flow cells for our production?

Q4:You say that there is little value in holding production meetings, but please describe why you hold this view.

Q5:I would like to begin Kaizen activities, but top management shows little interest in this.How should I proceed in this endeavor?

Q6:Can we implement Kaizen in non-manufacturing service industries, such as hospitals, banks, and newspaper organizations.

Q7:Cab we implement Kaizen even in a company with strong unions?
Q8:Is it possible to do engineering Kaizen?

Q9:Why is Kaizen on the floor important?Why do you start with floor Kaizen activities?

Q10:There are superiors and staff members who are unwilling to come out to the floor.How can you get them out onto the floor?
Q11:We hear that there are the concepts of static and dynamic 6S.How are they different?

Q12:Preservation of tradition and reform through Kaizen are both important.In what way can you achieve integrity with these two concepts?

Q13:In order to proceed with Kaizen, do you need a special steering section like a Kaizen promotion office?

Q14: How did you come across with Kaizen (from whom did you learn Kaizen)?

Q15:When a Kaizen event is held, we see good results emerge, but once the event is over, we end up going back to where we were before.What should we do?
Q16:How long are we normally supposed to have a consultation period? What is the minimum contract period?
Q17:What actual steps are involved up to the introduction of your consultation?

Q1:As Kaizen activities are made and efficiency improves, what happens to those workers who become superfluous?

A1:First, let me say that they should not be laid off. Form a Kaizen team by selecting from among the staff those enthusiastic about improvements (gideah people and those who freely voice their criticisms), with the number of members being equal to that number made superfluous. This Kaizen group forms a bridge between the floor and management, and works to make positive changes possible.
The efficiency has improved by the number of people who have become superfluous, and therefore, management needs to recalculate cost using that new condition with less staff. A pricing structure based on the new costs has to be set up with the cooperation of Sales, and effort should be made to gain new business opportunities. Once that is done, there will be a time lag but within 6 months or so, new business opportunities will come in. Around that time, Kaizen will advance further and again, superfluous people will be designated to continue the Kaizen group, and they will work to further improve efficiency. This will lead to more decreases in cost, opening up more new business opportunities. This is how progress can be made. Kaizen tools are like a very sharp knife, which if improperly used, may hurt people, and so please work to use them properly.

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Q2:As standard work becomes part of the operating routine and the operations are simplified, donft workers become almost robot-like?

A2:Letfs consider the sports metaphor for a moment. Think about how much an athlete repeats his/her basic daily practice drills. For example, if we consider a golferfs swing or basketball dribbling or soccer passing as standard work, we can see that they are the same as the acts of practicing and researching to achieve higher levels of standard work. In this way, it is very important to create an environment where people can challenge themselves and work proactively.

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Q3:My company is a special case in that we manufacture many types of products. The sales volume of each product is low, and in such a case, how can we implement one piece flow cells for our production?

A3:I can tell you that all of the companies I have visited initially clung to the belief that gmy company is the most difficult place to implement one piece flow cells for our production.h In order to create flows, do not look at the products, but instead focus on the processes that create the products. Compile a process matrix for all the products, create cells by grouping together those products that are comprised of similar process sequence and flow, and proceed to form flow production.

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Q4:You say that there is little value in holding production meetings, but please describe why you hold this view.

A4:I can cite 2 examples that will illustrate my point. First, if we look to the basketball metaphor, letfs think about meetings during games, and under what circumstances such meetings are called. If a team is on a roll and leading on the scoreboard, will they call a time-out? Much more likely, it will be the team that is trailing and getting trounced that will want to call a time-out. In like fashion, I would say that meetings become necessary when management is not functioning well. As a 2nd example, letfs look at situations where people give reports. It is a human nature that there are almost no people who present reports because they want to be criticized or scolded. Most people present their reports because they hope to be praised. That is why people end up reporting only good things in meetings. In order to conduct proper business management, you need to obtain accurate and correct information. Most important concept is three gen principles (actual sites (Gemba), actual things (Gembutsu) and actual facts (Genjitsu).

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Q5:I would like to begin Kaizen activities, but top management shows little interest in this. How should I proceed in this endeavor?

A5:When Kaizen is not conducted as a top-down activity, it will take some time, but you need to first begin by doing what you can within your own area. As you begin to produce results, you will gradually be given a wider scope of responsibilities. And if you continue to make further improvements, eventually you will have an impact on the entire company.

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Q6:Can we implement Kaizen in non-manufacturing service industries, such as hospitals, banks, and newspaper organizations.

A6:Yes, of course you can. In any field, if you search out the value of the company, you will be able to identify areas that are wasteful and areas that have added value. For example, in the case of a hospital, you could consider a variety of things to target such as reducing patient wait-times and eliminating medical mistakes.

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Q7:Cab we implement Kaizen even in a company with strong unions?
A7:Yes, you can. The essential objectives of unions are to give a sense of value to the jobs of workers, having them perform good jobs by improving their own working environments and labor conditions, as this eventually results in the success of their company. Once the company is financially successful, the wages of workers will also improve.
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Q8:Is it possible to do engineering Kaizen?
A8:Yes, it is certainly possible. There are two notions that we emphasize. The first one is called DFMAS (Design for Manufacturing, Assembly, and Service), namely a concept to consider whether the design is developed in such a way that the product is easy to manufacture and assemble. This concept needs to be built into the design. For the 2nd notion, when we consider engineering, we see that not all engineering work is related to the creation of new items. In other words, you need to establish a system where technology functions can be standardized and only truly necessary items are created, and if the new creation is better than the existing standard, then that will become the standard for new functions. This is called gSpiral Uph.
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Q9:Why is Kaizen on the floor important? Why do you start with floor Kaizen activities?

A9:The floor is the most downstream level of all the processes. Therefore, all the existing problems appear on the floor, such as design issues, process design issues, production control system problems, equipment problems, purchasing and management. This is the reason why we start Kaizen activity with the people on the floor, and continue Kaizen upstream to search out the true causes for problems.
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Q10:There are superiors and staff members who are unwilling to come out to the floor. How can you get them out onto the floor?
A10: First, you should go to the floor yourself, work together with the people on the floor to do Kaizen, and establish a good working relationship and sense of teamwork with them. If you can achieve good results, your boss/superiors will definitely show interest in what you are doing. If you can gradually include any of those interested staff members, you can create an environment where many people show up on the floor, and this will naturally bring out your boss/superiors to the floor, too.
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Q11:We hear that there are the concepts of static and dynamic 6S. How are they different?
A11:I call the generally used 6S static 6S:Safety, sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain. I am not saying that these are unneeded. You just need the additional dynamic 6S, and they are sequence, simplicity, smoothness, speed, spirit and smile. I created these dynamic 6S, and they are the words centering around people and the core knowledge people possess, involving action and heart (emotion and willingness).
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Q12:Preservation of tradition and reform through Kaizen are both important. In what way can you achieve integrity with these two concepts?

A12:Tradition is not established in a day. It is what people have created from scratch through their accumulated knowledge and wisdom. I believe the inheritance of tradition means that people are tasked to improve that tradition while preserving it. In the tradition of Toyota Corp., Kaizen equals the Toyota Production System, and Kaizen is practiced everyday with progress made day by day.
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Q13:In order to proceed with Kaizen, do you need a special steering section like a Kaizen promotion office?
A13:This is a tough question to answer. Ideally, it would be good to have a company where Kaizen activity can be practiced without a Kaizen promotion office. However, it will be easier to start Kaizen if there is a department providing support to those involved in Kaizen activities. The ultimate goal of the Kaizen promotion office is to improve the company up to the point where Kaizen can proceed without the Kaizen promotion office.
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Q14: How did you come across with Kaizen (from whom did you learn Kaizen)?

A14:Itfs hard to state precisely from whom I learned. I met various people along the way who influenced me positively, and I worked to modify many things on the production floor because I wanted to improve the company I worked for. These efforts naturally resulted in Kaizen activities. I donft think I intentionally had Kaizen in mind when I was working on the various improvements.
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Q15:When a Kaizen event is held, we see good results emerge, but once the event is over, we end up going back to where we were before. What should we do?
A15:It is certainly an event when you do Kaizen for the first time. However, as long as Kaizen is considered an event, that company management does not understand what Kaizen means. When Kaizen is called an event, it is an initial period where the company starts Kaizen. If the employees ask themselves what is work with true value, identify the real objectives of the department they belong to, and take action aligned with the objectives, they will be able to continually practice Kaizen in a proactive way. You start Kaizen at one point, connect with a new point to make a line, and then create an area and eventually deploy Kaizen in a 3D scale. Please refer to gHow to Proceed with Kaizenh for details.
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Q16:How long are we normally supposed to have a consultation period? What is the minimum contract period?
A16: We usually provide consultation with a one-week period as a unit. You decide on Kaizen topics, and your group works on the topics as a team and actually changes the situation within a week. However, regarding topic selection in relation to company improvements, you need to clarify what types of topics have an impact on the company and a relationship with future strategies. In many cases during the initial period, however, if you focus on the problems observed on the floor and improve those situations, you will be able to identify company-wide issues and subjects to be tackled in the future.
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Q17:What actual steps are involved up to the introduction of your consultation?
A17:Please read the pages on gHow to proceed with Kaizenh as the detailed flow is described there.
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