The kaizen blitz has long been criticized because the improvements or gains made during kaizen events often are not sustained. To those critics I say, so what? Mature lean thinkers understand that for a business to become lean you must impact how people think, act and interact. This cultural or people side of lean is the difficult “row to hoe” on anyone’s lean journey. When businesses hold multiple kaizen blitz events a week they are doing so to improve business process cycle times and to win the hearts of their employees. They understand the biggest benefit of any kaizen event is not the process you improve – it is the minds you change.
Hourly employees, those who do the real work for your customers and are the least empowered employees in any business, need to understand how “lean thinking” benefits each of them individually as well as the business. So where should you start? Start with safety. Engage your employees in kaizen blitz events that focus on the reduction of injury risks. Skeptical hourly employees, and most of them are, will quickly become lean champions when they see management giving focus to their safety while seeking cycle time gains. Remember, people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Make work safer, win their hearts and then move your lean efforts forward. It is the safe path to lean.