Building Kaizen Momentum; Where to Start & How to Succeed by Dr Hakeem Hammad.

Using his 23 years of extensive global experience Dr Hakeem Hammad from Xi Horizons Consulting kicked off the latest lunchtime bytes webinar from the ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet on  “Building Kaizen Momentum; Where to Start & How to Succeed” with a definition.

Kaizen as business philosophy of continuous improvement breaks down into two parts –  KAI = change and ZEN meaning good. Continuous improvement means being constantly (KAI) oriented to improve (ZEN) and learning to make progress taking into consideration the past mistakes.

Referring to the leading proponent of Kaizen Hakeem added “This is the philosophy that allows Toyota to grow race after race, without stopping even if victorious. If you have the same spirit, follow us: together we will go far away.”

Kaizen involves ‘Process Thinking’ with the foundation elements including:

  • Self-Discipline
  • Time Focus
  • Skill Focus
  • Participation
  • Morale
  • Communication

Kaiken like other improvement methodologies can suffer from misconceptions.  Hakeem dispelled some of the common myths including:

  • Kaizen is only for shop-floor employees.
  • Kaizen is only a sort of an implemented suggestion scheme.
  • Any implemented improvement is Kaizen
  • Kaizen is: SMALL improvements (only).
  • Kaizen is the responsibility of the OpEx team
  • Kaizen is only for manufacturing
  • Kaizen is a 5 day workshop

Tacking the perception of small improvements Hakeem countered that continual small changes results in large improvements, which is a central tenant of Kaizen.

Explaining some of the origins of these he differentiated ‘Improvement’ from ‘Focused Improvement’ saying “Improvement is like sunlight.  It uses a lot of energy but is dispersed (wasted), delivers small improvements and is a slow progress which may be not noticeable.  On the other hand focused improvement concentrates the energy, enables significant improvements, only needs a small amount of time and results in rapid progress”

Using his own experience Hakeem outlined 10 key Kaizen principles that he uses including:

  1. Leave cell phones, pagers and email accounts behind for the Event. The team needs 110% of each member’s time. Please be respectful of the other participants who are depending on you.
  2. Throw out traditional concepts of manufacturing methods.
  3. Think of how the new method will work – not why it won’t.
  4. Don’t accept excuses.
  5. Don’t seek perfection. A 30- 50% implementation rate is fine as long as it is done on the spot.
  6. Correct mistakes the moment they are found.
  7. Think creativity before capital. If you have to spend money on improvements, simulate it first. 
  8. Ask “why” five times. Then ask any and all other questions – there are no “Dumb” questions.
  9. Leave titles at the door – one person, one voice, no position or rank. Ten person’s ideas are better than one person’s. 
  10. Improvements know no limits.

Building Kaizen momentum is crucial to success and is achieved through obedience to a process and steps.  Hakeem shared a 5 step model that he uses.

  1. Involve. Start at GEMBA.  Listen to the problems and identify what the Kaizen should be.
  2. Prepare. Start preparing 3-5 weeks ahead.  Take time in selecting the team.  Make sure all the shifts are covered.  Supervisors are key but also engineering.  Use this time to start gathering data but be prepared for push back as people question why they are being asked for data and can be mistrustful that it will lead to any meaningful change.  
  3. Education. You need to ensure that people are able to participate, use practical examples and clear instructions.
  4. Motivate. Foster a positive mindset.
  5. Communicate. Hakeem emphasised the role of ongoing communication but focused particularly on next steps and actions.

“Central to the model is Focus, One Goal and One Team leading to success” added Hakeem.

In wrapping up the webinar Hakeem summarised the opportunities, role of people and mindset needed to benefit from Kaizen including:

  • Problems are opportunities for improvement
  • Problems are a mountain of treasures
  • People are not problems
  • People are becoming a problem-solvers
  • Process-oriented is People-oriented
  • Kaizen is for everyone everywhere and everyday!

Hakeem’s full presentation is available below: