Friday, 19 March 2021

Stimulating Kaizen opportunities - the 'mechanical' way!

I often end up in conversations about how to stimulate Kaizen ideas and opportunities.

If you have read my other posts, you will know that I split the improvement journey into two halves.

For many people, the initial Kaizen focus is all around fixing things that are wrong / not working properly. Once you get past this point you need something else to focus and motivate you to generate improvement opportunities.

Kaizen journey
The two halves of the Kaizen journey

The discussion that I often end up in, is the one around the imagination quandary. People talk to me about not being creative, or not being inspired to come up with improvement ideas. Do you ever feel this way?

It seems that there is a popular view that some people are creative and some aren't. Great Kaizen ideas are not just the product of 'creative' people.

There are lots of ways that you can generate improvement ideas without having to sit on a mountain top cross legged waiting for inspiration. Finding a 'mechanical' way to consistently generate improvements is a good strategy. If you don't consider yourself to be blessed with a mind that concocts amazing ideas on a never ending (and random) basis then it is a superb strategy.

By 'mechanical' I mean some kind of approach or system that let's you generate Kaizen ideas. A good example of this is brainstorming. Perform a brainstorm and there you go, a bunch of ideas.

Or, you can sit on your own and not move until you have generated twenty ideas on your own. Being more specific about the question can help you focus your idea generation. Reading about other people's improvements, or speaking to people in other businesses, can spark ideas too.

Asking people that aren't from your own working area is another option too. Ask them for ideas about how you can improve a part of your business and let them generate the Kaizen opportunities. Don't comment, don't answer, just say thank you and this approach can work wonders.

The point is, come up with a system that works for you.

If you want some more ideas then check out:

Making It Happen - a toolkit that provides a year of Kaizen ideas and strategies.

Kaizen Focus Tool - a simple Android app to help you generate an infinite supply of improvement ideas.

Effective Continuous Improvement - a practical book to help you generate and manage Kaizen opportunities.

Whatever approach you choose, enjoy being able to generate improvement opportunities whenever you want.


About the author:

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes and embracing Kaizen.

Giles is also the author of Effective Root Cause Analysis and 'What Does Good Look Like?'.

C'mon! Just write the SOP!