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Culture Change is a business improvement consultancy that delivers bottom line improvements by developing a Lean Culture throughout your business. Culture Changea€™s objective is to deliver sustainable benefits in Quality, Cost and Delivery. Kaizen is an approach to activity organisation based on common sense, self-discipline, order and economy. Kaizen refers to any activities that continually improve all business functions or processes and involves every employee from the CEO to the assembly line workers.
With Kaizen management practises, the main priority is given to the manufacturing process, as the process of achieving results is not less than the final result.
The kaizen method is now a base model for other quality improvement methods including: suggestion systems, automation, small group activities, Kanban system, just-in-time, zero defects, total productive maintenance, total quality control, etc. The history of Kaizen begins after World War II when Toyota first implemented quality circles in its production process. A quality circle is a group of workers performing the same or similar work, who meet regularly to identify, analyze and solve work-related problems.
Masaaki Imai (born, 1930) is a Japanese organizational theorist and management consultant, known for his work on quality management, specifically on Kaizen. Kaizen method strives toward perfection by eliminating waste (muda) in the workplace (gemba).
A portion of microprocesses functioning as part of the full process (from start to finish) do not make any transformation to the product that the consumer is willing to pay for.
In lean manufacturing, the idea of gemba is that the problems are visible and the best improvement ideas will come from going to the gemba (the factory floor in manufacturing).
The term gemba, in international practice, became widely known after publications about the Toyota quality management system. In today’s situation of having to manage multiple projects and to make decisions quicker, managers often try to apply the latest high-cost technologies to handle problems that can be solved with a commonsense, low-cost approach. About this BlogHow can online collaboration and project management tools help improve productivity in your business? What you will most likely find after you have captured a little data is that lead times fall in a distribution that is skewed to the right. One of the interesting concepts in statistics is the concept of Regression Toward the Mean. Because of regression toward the mean and the actions we can take based on the visibility Kanban provides us, using T-Shirt sizes and cycle time to schedule a release will result in a pretty accurate estimate – and the cumulative estimate will be more precise than any individual estimate.
In Kanban we use Cycle Time data derived from the performance of the system to plan when work will be done. The tricky part here, and the one which should be stressed, is that you can deliver reliable estimates only as long as you don’t face many priority changes. Yes, this is pretty natural, but still we’re often expected to deliver fixed dates no matter how vague scope is or how much it changes along the way.
Great post and very much in line with something that we do at 7digital in one of our teams, we use the data with a subtle difference and talk more about the risk involved in the estimate though.
Once you have set up such an environment it is paid back by the trust of your organization that a good product will exist in time. One complication around t-shirt sizing and effect on cycle times is around delivery cadence. If your kanban system has a sprint-like delivery cadence, it will affect cycle times and make them less accurate, so the groupings will not be as clear. This is achieved by conducting a business diagnostic, developing a culture change strategy and then providing training & consultancy to match the clienta€™s needs.
In English kaizen is typically applied to measures for implementing continuous improvement. Kaizen method is a strong contributor and fundamental part of a lean production process model in lean manufacturing. The reason for this focus is that imperfect processes could potentially not lead to achieving the goal. This was influenced in part by American business and quality management teachers who visited the country.
This revolutionary concept became very popular in Japan in the 1950s and continues to exist in the form of Kaizen groups as well as similar worker participation schemes. In 1985 he founded the Kaizen Institute Consulting Group (KICG) to help western companies introduce the concepts, systems and tools of Kaizen.
A kaizen event is a focused development project that can accomplish breakthrough improvements in a short amount of time, about 2-10 days in scope. The goal of kaizen is production without wastes by improving standardized activities and processes.

After analyzing manufacturing processes, Taiichi Ohno was able to identify which steps add value and which ones do not. Over processing occurs when more work is performed on a piece than what is required by the customer. Motion refers to the damage that the production process inflicts on the entity that creates the product. Whether it is in the form of raw materials, work-in-progress, or finished goods, represents a capital outlay that has not yet produced an income, either by the producer or for the consumer. Defects cause extra costs for reworking the part and can sometimes result in doubling the cost of one single product. The gemba walk is an activity that takes lean management to the front lines to look for waste and opportunities to practice gemba kaizen, or practical shop floor improvement. In practice, if a problem occurs, the engineers must go to the source to understand the full impact of the problem, gathering data from all sources. By repeating the question “why” several times, you can find out the root cause of the problem. Read on for the latest business tips and productivity hacks for organising work and life with Kanbanchi. Estimates are unreliable because the inherent variability work is compounded by the lack of flow in most teams and destructive behavior caused by fixed point estimates. Cycle Time, in most Kanban and Lean contexts, is the time between when the team starts working on an item and when the item is delivered.
When a card is pulled into the first work queue – enter the date on the card next to Start. This shows the variability in the work that you perform – there is some absolute limit on the shortest time the work can take – but there are a lot of ways it takes longer. What this means is that when you bring a lot of estimates together, you are likely to  have a final result where the average over time is close to the historical average. Bludgeoning: If we produce point estimates when outcomes are probabilistic – and then hold people accountable to hitting each individual estimate we are going get value destroying behavior. Sandbagging: Another destructive management behavior when we couple planning and scheduling is accusing the team of sandbagging. Parkinson’s Law: Typical management techniques result in the team delaying delivery until the last moment. School boy Syndrome: The other behavior spawned by this is that the team doesn’t start as soon as possible because they wait until they think they need to start to deliver.
Then we decouple this planning effort from work scheduling – using the Kanban board to focus the team on flow.
The nature of the Stakeholders for the team means that they need to make a commitment to delivering a set of functionality in a contract (though I am aware of other ways of drawing up contracts, it’s not something that has taken hold) and so the element of risk is important. I agree with your point that the more reliable you get the less people focus on the exact delivery time and more on how to collectively deliver value.
It also applies to processes, such as purchasing and logistics, that cross organizational boundaries into the supply chain.
A corresponding task of kaizen is to become a part of market by improving processes within the organisation instead of pushing products into the market. At present time, the Kaizen Institute team has applied the lean methodology and kaizen training courses across virtually all business sectors throughout the globe. Kaizen events must have a clear, concise objective along with immediately available resources and rapid results. Industrial engineer Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System, noticed that there is an 80% loss in every process and the value of the process is less than 20%. It leads to excess inventory, which then requires the expenditure of resources on storage space and preservation.
Japanese decision-making principle differs from a traditional american management approach where decisions are typically made remotely. It doesn’t require the investment of a great deal of money yet offers substantial benefits to any business. Kanban, through a few simple techniques, a little bit of math, and the decoupling of planning and scheduling will give you the ability establish accurate estimates with minimal effort.
Cycle Time is what is interesting to managing (whether managed by management or self managed) the team.
You can set a Due Date expectation 11 days and and be sure that you will hit this date about 80% of the time without changing anything you do. Additionally, Cycle Time Variability is probably impacted more by variation in the system like waiting and rework then anything else.
With the way we have historically run projects, we put all the estimates together and then hold the team accountable to each individual estimate. Bludgeoning people when they don’t hit 80% estimates means we are going to get 95% estimates.

This often means the team will start in time to deliver on the likely outcome – but deliver late when the task turns out to be more complicated or runs into a delay. In traditional project management, we ask for unreasonable estimates and then manage the work in such a way that we guarantee the project will be delivered late. Kanban provides the team opportunities to make capacity and prioritization decisions that help address the innate variability of the work being performed to deliver within the policy. However it has also drawbacks – every time you put another thing on the top of todo list the rest of queue which is lower will be delivered later. The team manages that risk on a daily basis calling the commitment that they make an SLA which removes the sense that the estimate is binding which is often a problem with estimates, as I am sure you know. What we are calling Cycle Time (the time we start work until we deliver it) should be less subject to this disruption. One of most important tasks in Kaizen involves improving the quality of work in an organisation by achieving TQC (total quality control). This ensures the results are significant, clear and quick to promote the generation of continued enthusiasm and satisfaction. At the same time, if you are a fan of technologies and understand kaizen approach is exactly what your organization needs to implement, you can adopt some online tool supporting the methodology.
This metric becomes a key management metric to reduce variability in the system, make reliable commitments, and provide insight into whether improvement efforts are delivering expected results.
So that’s the policy, we will deliver work within 11 days with an 80% due date performance expectation. If you were asked to plan how long it would take to get to every stoplight on the way to work exactly, this would be impossible. This is unreasonable because we know that the estimate represents a range of possible outcomes. Management will often want to go back and cut the “excessive padding” out of the rest of the estimates. This is problematic because it leads to gold-plating of work that increases downstream efforts. Additionally, late delivery of work is as often driven by behavior that inhibits flow as the uncertainty around the work effort.
Cycle Time estimates, combined with limited WIP and a focus on flow, helps Kanban helps deliver predictable outcomes.
However, if there are a lot of expedites and silver bullets it will also make the Cycle Time less predictable.
We are going to talk about using Cycle Time to make reliable Due Date Performance commitments. At the end of the week, when you pull cards off the board, capture the cycle time for each card into a spreadsheet or whatever tool you are using for tracking. With T-Shirt sizing and Cycle Time, you can get as accurate results in minutes as could you do in months.
But you have a pretty good idea what time you need to leave home each day to arrive at work at the right time. It also ensure we don’t deliver a task that could be delivered early doesn’t get delivered early. The behavior that arises from coupling planning to scheduling combined with Murphy’s Law ensures that projects will be delivered late – even against a 95% estimate. Addressing it with capacity means swarming on the task to bring it in closer to the due date.
You may decide that you don’t accept XL tasks without decomposition or require breaking them down. Secondly, we know statistically that most work should be delivered earlier than an 80% or 95% estimate. Addressing it with prioritizing might mean moving the card up higher in the stack then one that is likely to be done early. Then determine estimates for each size based on Mean + 1 Standard Deviation for each of the clusters. The cost of swarming and prioritizing means that another card might be delayed – but if you are thoughtful about prioritizing and swarming you won’t cause delay outside of the Due Date promise.
So teams don’t deliver early and consume time that, on average, we need to accrue to the project.
For some cards, you will communicate to the customer that the card will exceed the due date performance expectation – while not optimal this is within your delivery commitment as long as it doesn’t happen more than 20% of the time.

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