Building on Dave’s excellent insights, who has time for the hugely wasteful & mechanical ‘five-day kaizen events’?
Dave’s suggested 1-hour-per-week Quality Circle is not only more time-efficient, but reinforces the central TPS principle: Kaizen is the work.
Absent of this core principle, is Lean any more than a set of tools?
If we accept it though, Lean comes to life and allows us to take on more & more complex challenges.
With respect to freeing up time, especially for senior leaders, I’ve found the trusty Yamazumi (stacked bar) chart to be very helpful.
Yamazumi works for quick change-over, job balancing – and for freeing leaders up for kaizen.
Once leaders begin to track & chart their time, eureka moments are possible:
1. Most of my week is spent on non-value added activity
2. I only have 30 minutes per day for improvement work (e.g. strategy, problem solving & other Gemba time)
As Sammy and Mark suggested, serious people then reduce 1 and increase 2.
(Serious leaders also put their strategies on a diet & focus on the critical few — rather than the critical few hundred…)
Methods for doing this are straightforward and have been documented by Steven Covey and others.
But compared to resting on your oars, or milling around aimlessly, kaizen is difficult.
As Dave suggests, it’s much more honest for a person, or an organization to simply say, “No, thanks. This is too hard.”
Which begs another question: Is TPS/Lean for everybody?