Engage everyone to make the organization smarter. Every day.

What part of your business needs to evolve faster?

Customer experience

Innovation

Business models

Sales process

Lead generation

Product development speed

Service delivery

Partnerships

Employee engagement

Customer experience

Innovation

How Kaizen Works

A never-ending cycle of learning and innovation

  1. Observe

  2. Organizational learning begins with observation. Everyone is encouraged to proactively look for problems, questions and opportunities as part of their work.

  3. Capture

  4. Observation is not enough. To ensure that valuable observations are not lost, they are captured and shared across the organization.

  5. Reflect

  6. On a regular basis, groups of employees and managers meet to discuss observations and decide what to do with them. Some observations will relate to goals for products and processes. Others arise from responding to delays, mishaps, defects and customer concerns. Yet others come from simply doing work and noticing how it can be improved.

  7. Solve

  8. Address an opportunity by selecting a team and completing a project using an appropriate problem-solving method.

Kaizen is a critical component of Lean,
and it can be challenging to get right.

In many companies it can feel like this.

Or like this.

Or like this.

Common challenges with Kaizen:

Lots of energy, but no systematic approach
Denial instead of seeking opportunities
Leaders fail to engage people
Blind spots – not working on what truly matters
Fear of failure is stronger than ambition to win
Using manufacturing methods for knowledge work

How We Make Kaizen Work for You

360-degree Learning

To avoid blind spots, we begin by helping you map out all your organizational learning opportunities as illustrated above. There will always be more observations and opportunities than capacity for pursuing them. Selecting the the right opportunities requires careful balancing between top-down and bottom-up perspectives in each quadrant.

The top-down perspective refers to organizational goals and the obstacles that must be overcome to meet them. For example, if reducing the sales cycle or improving customer satisfaction are well-defined objectives, learning and improvement activities can focus on meeting them.

The bottom-up perspective comes from day-to-day experience in doing work, whether in innovation or operations. Improvement ideas naturally occur to people as part of doing their work, and an effective Organizational Learning system must be able to capture them.

Richer problem-solving methods for modern knowledge work

Lean was born in a manufacturing world, but the world economy is now increasingly a knowledge economy. Work is more complex and the world is changing faster. We therefore employ the Lean Systems Framework™ (LSF), an extension of Lean for modern knowledge-intensive organizations.

The LSF was influenced by Systems Thinking, Design Thinking and Cognitive Science  It contains a richer set of models and problem-solving methods:

  • A3 (Toyota’s classical method)

  • JDI (“just do it” – for trivial problems)

  • DX (Differential Diagnosis, suitable for complex problems)

  • QDEA (Question-Design-Experiment-Adapt, convert questions into testable hypotheses)

  • World Mapping (open-ended discovery of facts, trends, etc.)

  • Kaikaku (Organization Design/Redesign)

These methods ensure 360-degree coverage for all of your organization’s learning opportunities.

Organizational Learning as a System

For Kaizen to work properly, the activities must be embedded in the work that people do, and they must be managed and tracked. We will help you organize your pipeline of observations, the decisions made about them, problem-solving projects as they progress and the results they generate. The resulting transparency will help you avoid blind spots and allow you to apply Kaizen to your Kaizen system itself.

Training and Coaching Support

Kaizen for Leaders

This full-day course provides a detailed overview of how Kaizen works and what leaders must do to facilitate organizational learning.  We cover leadership behaviors, motivation, goal-setting and analytics – how to measure and understand the performance of your Organizational Learning System.

Kaizen for Practitioners (2 days)

In this hands-on course we cover the essential skills needed to organize and perform Kaizen activities. Participations will work on real-life problems in their own organizations.  We cover all the problem-solving methods in the Lean Systems Framework except for the Kaikaku (Organization Design) method, which is covered in a separate course:

Leadership Coaching

Lean changes the day-to-day experience of employees and managers alike, and we provide coaching to help with this transition. Managers must set learning and improvement goals for their teams, not merely “doing goals”. Their focus shifts from directing work to facilitating learning and problem-solving. Individual contributors also become involved with the business and with customer in a broader fashion. They are not only empowered to explore new horizons and make improvements, they are expected to.

Case Study

Enterprise software company wanted to engage employees to solve problems

Smallworld Systems, a Norwegian enterprise software company, was challenged with increasing customer demand for software customization. Smallworld’s software helped telecom and energy companies manage their assets, but customers had slightly differing needs. The company’s main challenge: improving customer responsiveness while continuing to ship new product releases. As is often the case, they had smart and experienced people with lots of ideas, but no real system for systematic improvement.

Outcomes from implementing Kaizen

  • Real-time transparent operations

  • Faster development

  • Improved customization responsiveness

  • Improved customer satisfaction

  • Employees became involved with strategy and business model questions

Let’s talk.

An organization succeeds by learning and implementing faster than the competition.  We will help you implement an organizational learning system that engages everyone in reflecting, identifying and pursuing the most valuable improvement and learning opportunities.

Contact us