People like events – they’re exciting, novel, new, and shiny. Unfortunately, often times after a Kaizen Event, things slip back and return to business as usual. Let me explain.
As is the case with new lean transformations, they often begin with Kaizen Events to give the participants a feel for how lean looks and feels like. This makes sense. But, in some organizations, they don’t go beyond Kaizen Events.
Why Have Kaizen
In a new lean transformation, a Kaizen Event is often the first time people and departments – that normally do not talk with each other are brought together for the first time. On the one hand, an Event at this level is good: it brings people together and allows them to apply lean thinking to a problem that they are all experiencing. On the other hand, why had these people not work together, walk pass their department boundaries, and coordinate with someone out of their area?
So, within this context for a brand new lean transformation, Kaizen Events make sense.
Kaizen and Culture Change
But, Kaizen Events alone will not bring the desired culture change in a lean transformation. In fact, most people mistakenly assume that the presence of Kaizen Events is evidence that there is a lean culture.
As the diagram shows, after an event, things often slip back.
In a way, this makes sense: humans are creatures of habit and a new way of doing things takes time to adopt and internalize. The question for us are these:
- What countermeasures can we put in place to prevent an organization from slipping to business as usual?
- If an organization will inevitably slip to business as usual, then what can we do to prevent a complete slip to how things were?
Prevent Business as Usual
In my next post, I’ll offer suggestions on how to prevent an organization from slipping back to business as usual.
I’m sure you have some ideas and experience in this area. What have you done to help an organization not slip?