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Kaizen Blitz


  1. Blitz Process Overview
  2. Types of Kaizen Blitzes
  3. Why Blitzes Fail
  4. Kaizen Blitz 10 Commandments

Blitz Process Overview

So you want to start getting the benefits of Lean now. One of the best ways to quickly begin the transition to Lean is to run a series of Kaizen Blitzes.

The word "Kaizen" is from the Japanese words "kai" (change) and "zen" (to a goal). "Blitz" of course, is from the German for "lightning". A Kaizen Blitz is a rapid change for the better.

Here is how they are typically done:

  1. A cross-functional team is assembled, consisting of people working in the area to be improved, and at least one person not working in the area. The team also consists of a variety of professional skills, such as operator, manager, mechanic, engineer, and accountant.

    The leadership of the team consists of:

    • A Team Leader who keeps the whole group focused
    • An assistant Team Leader who is a future Team Leader in training
    • An Instructor (often the Team Leader)

  2. The team is excused from their normal duties for the duration of the blitz, which is usually 3 to 5 days. It is very important that the team members concentrate of the blitz, and not their usual jobs. Sometimes, the blitz is scheduled so that the team members have a few hours before or after the blitz each day to handle the normal emergencies. However, while the blitz is underway, the team needs to ignore their normal jobs and focus exclusively on the blitz.

  3. The team receives formal instruction in Lean Manufacturing principles and the methodology of the Blitz on the first day. The Lean principles training always emphasizes the specific skills needed to execute the blitz. For example, if this is a 5S Blitz, then specific information about 5S is presented during the training session.

  4. The team formally determines the goals of the Blitz. Often the goals are decided by the Blitz Leader and simply presented to the team for acknowledgement

  5. The team spends time formally evaluating the current situation. This means they perform a survey of the cell as it is today, giving a numerical score if possible. This evaluation will be duplicated at the end of the Blitz to determine how effective the Blitz was.

  6. After the evaluation is complete, the team meets to plan the improvements they wish to make. They may split into sub-groups to attack specific areas or perform specific tasks

  7. The team then spends several days actually making the improvements. To keep their focus, means are typically brought in so the team can spend most of its time working the Blitz.

  8. At the end of the Blitz period, the team conducts another formal evaluation and then compares the beginning and ending conditions.

  9. Most Blitz teams will have a few uncompleted tasks left over. These task are added to a "newspaper" of work to be done over the next few weeks.

  10. Finally, the team creates a presentation of their results and presents it to the plant's managers. This gives the managers an opportunity to show their support for the efforts of the team, and to publicly praise the results.

Types of Blitzes

A Kaizen Blitz process can be used to make almost any type of rapid improvement. However, they usually fall under one of the following types:

Why Blitzes Fail

The Kaiizen Blitz process is not perfect, and does not work every time. When it fails, it usually does so for one of the following reasons:

Kaizen 10 Commandments

  1. Solve the problem once. Find the root cause and correct it, not the symptom.
  2. Don't think of reasons why it won't work. Figure out ways to make it work.
  3. Don't blame anyone for the current situation; improve it!.
  4. Don't wait for perfection. A small improvement done now is worth more than a big improvement done later.
  5. Don't take anybody's word. See it with your own eyes. Get the facts.
  6. Don't spend a lot of money. Most good improvements are very low cost.
  7. Wisdom arises from difficulty; Consider difficulty a challenge to overcome.
  8. Ask "why?" at least 5 times.
  9. The wisdom of the entire team is more valuable than the knowledge of any one person.
  10. You can always make improvements every time you try.