Kaizen | Six Sigma | Lean Management | Training & Consulting | Operational Excellence

Global Leader & Pioneer in Kaizen/Lean/Operational Excellence domain


How to improve operations in 2015?Part I of II

Part I of II

“Improving Operational Efficiency” is one of the mantra for gaining competitive advantage. It has been the mantra in past and it is going to be the mantra for 2015 also. It has become a necessity not just for profits but also for long term success. Quality, Cost & Productivity improvement has become the keys for gaining competitive advantage. But how to achieve Operational Efficiency? Global competitiveness is putting tremendous pressure and organizations are facing many challenges to fulfill customer demand and carry out operations in a predictable manner. Therefore to be successful it is important to understand & have a proper operational excellence plan or an improvement roadmap which can support your overall business strategy. The operational efficiency can be achieved by adopting Kaizen/Lean concepts & methodologies. These concepts have changed the landscape of manufacturing/service organizations who have adopted it. Kaizen is a globally proven approach to drive and sustain an operational excellence culture within any organization. Kaizen helps organizations to improve its processes, quality, reduce waste and thus costs. Kaizen is the practice of continuous improvement. Kaizen was originally introduced to the West by Masaaki Imai in his book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success in 1986. Today Kaizen is recognized worldwide as an important pillar of an organization’s long-term competitive strategy.It was this book that helped popularize these learning’s in the Western world and introduces “Kaizen” into the global management vocabulary. Originally published by Random House in 1986, the book has remained primary resource for managers interested in the Kaizen concept of continual incremental improvement. Operational Efficiency

Click here to view the video

As Imai San emphasizes, this is not complex idea so much as committed mindset – one that is constantly prepared to question the status quo and keep relentless focus on all aspects of business process or operations to see where efficiencies can be gained and waste eliminated. One of the most notable features of kaizen is that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time. However this has been misunderstood to mean that kaizen equals small changes. In fact, kaizen means everyone involved in making improvements. While the majority of changes may be small, the greatest impact may be kaizens that are led by senior management as transformational projects, or by cross-functional teams as kaizen events. Kaizen is continuous improvement that is based on certain guiding principles:

  • Good processes bring good results
  • Go see for yourself to grasp the current situation
  • Speak with data, manage by facts
  • Take action to contain and correct root causes of problems
  • Work as a team
  • Kaizen is everybody’s business
  • And much more!

It is definitely the time when they should adopt strategy to help them embrace lean production.” Adoption of Kaizen mindset also ties neatly in with global shift toward reducing the environmental impact of business. That’s because “lean”, says Imaisan, is very focused on the reduction of waste (muda) and on optimizing resource use. Apart from this the managers should also focus on GEMBA or the place where the “real work” or value-adding action takes place, whether on the factory floor or hotel reception desk. The concept of GEMBA urges managers to walk the GEMBA so that they can get to know every part of the process, see the real problems and find real solutions, whether manufacturing or service delivery. But the problem is that GEMBA is seen as lowly and taken as fit for low-level or front line employees. Imai san says that organizations that adopt kaizen tend to have flatter management structures & people centric approach. It is more of an evolution than revolution. He also adds by saying that today managers are eager to teach tools and come up with all sort of tools and this is what distracts them from the real focus of identifying the problem or unnecessary details by going to the GEMBA. Maybe that is why Masaaki Imai states in his book, Kaizen: I would like here to propose KAIZEN as the overriding concept behind good management. It is the unifying thread running through the philosophy, the systems, and the problem-solving tools developed in Japanover the last 30 years. Its message is one of improvement and trying to do better.

Keep watching this space to read Part II of this subject.

P.S. If your leaders and colleagues are also interested in this subject, do them a favor and share this link. They may thank you for your concern and initiative.

Looking for more info on Kaizen/Lean/Operational Excellence? Click here

Leave a comment

Change Mindsets to Change Culture

Like human beings, organizations also have habits of their own culture, customs & personalities and therefore it is very difficult to move forward with such current set of habits. Many Organizations are trying to evolve in order to maintain the quality of service/products, profitability, reduce cost, etc however this is not possible unless the organization (or let’s put it this way TOP MANAGEMENT) is not committed to change from current set of habits to better set of habits.

Many organizations culture are mis-aligned with its goals due to lack of right direction, no delegation of authority or responsibility, departments or people working in silos, fear of skepticism, etc and therefore changing a culture becomes difficult. Changing the habits/mindsets of people is the hardest part in Transformation journey.  Mindsets frame the running of the whole interpretation process & it acts as the guide during this process. The “fixed mindset” creates an internal monologue that is focused on judging while the “growth mindset” is constantly monitoring what’s going on, but their internal monologue is not about judging themselves and others in this way. Although they’re sensitive to the positive & negative information, but they’re attuned to its implications for learning and constructive actions like What can I learn from this? How can I improve?

Change Mindsets to change culture

Changing people’s mindsets or behavior can happen in two ways:

  1. By forcing behavior change or
  2. By influencing their behavior change


Both kind of techniques are used by management depending upon the work culture or customs or personality traits of ‘top management’ as well as of the ‘organization’.  Both the techniques has its own pros & cons but let’s have a look at the 3 main keys to influence the behavior change or the habit as it has profound impact on both people & organizational goals.

  1. Physical workplace environment: You all will agree that the physical workplace environment can have huge impact on the way you think or act. Environment plays a crucial role when you look at behavior because your brain reacts profoundly to its surrounding/physical environment.
  2. Standards/Process: Established standards and written codes of ethical conduct can help bolster virtuous values and promote ethical organizational behavior. Standards or Process usually incorporate specific guidelines for acting within specific functional workplace areas.
  3. Measurement: There is a famous quote by H James Harrington which says “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” What you measure is what you get and therefore how you measure the mindset/culture change should be part of your overall change management strategy. You can look at few indicators to focus on depending upon the type of change effort e.g.: approach, attitude, perception, ownership, etc. and the list can go on but they should converge to measure organizational mindset with respect to the change effort.


Edgar Schein is the author of Organizational Culture and Leadership. In his book, he writes about changing culture and mindset through embedding mechanisms.

Primary embedding mechanisms

  • What leaders (are observed to) pay attention to, measure, and control on a regular basis
  • How leaders (are observed to) react to critical incidents and organizational crises
  • Observed criteria by which leaders allocate scarce resources
  • Deliberate role modeling, teaching, and coaching
  • Observed criteria by which leaders allocate rewards and status
  • Observed criteria by which leaders recruit, select, promote, retire, and excommunicate organizational members

There are also secondary embedding mechanisms, which will not change mindset or culture alone, but if used, need to be consistent with the primary embedding mechanisms.

Secondary embedding mechanisms

  • Organizational design and structure
  • Organizational systems and procedures
  • Organizational rites and rituals
  • Design of physical space, facades, and buildings
  • Stories, legends, and myths about people and events
  • Formal statements about organizational philosophy, values, and creed

So the bottom-line is if you want to change culture change mindsets/habits of people.

P.S. If your leaders and colleagues are also interested in this subject, do them a favor and share this link. They may thank you for your concern and initiative.

Looking for more info on Kaizen/Lean/Operational Excellence? Click here

Leave a comment

Team Development Programs: To gain sustainable competitive advantage

Organizations that invest Time and Resources into team building & developing their people, will naturally create a sustainable competitive advantage. Team development is essential in any environment as it helps you to understand differences.

It ensures personal development, positive workplace communication, leadership skills and the ability to work collaboratively to solve problem and achieve organization/personal goals.

Introduction – What is a Team Development Program

1 what is team developement

Introduction – Definition of TDP Teams

2 Defination of TDP

Introduction – Practicing New Behaviors

3. Practicing new behaviours

  • Launch Startup Activities;
  • Do Pilot Projects (innovative and effective);
  • Sponsored by Top Management;
  • Supported by Kaizen Support Organization.
  • Evolve to Small Set of Behaviors;
  • Spread by a Small Number of Trainers (Formal and Informal Opinion Leaders);
  • Through Formal and Informal Networks in the Organization;
  • Creating Behavior Tipping Points;
  • New Kaizen Culture Appears.

The Team Leader Role

4 the team leader role

On the Job Training

Operators /Team Members

  • Are Trained by the Team or Opinion Leader (champion) during work time;
  • Simple Kaizen Themes;
  • One at a Time, 2 to 4 h per month;
  • Receives Visual Lessons (using boards, OPL´s and Gemba observation).
  • Starts Behaving for Setup Time Reduction (following the leader);
  • Example of Daily Behavior:
    • Records metrics after each setup job;
    • Records problems (gaps to standards);
    • 5 min daily meeting to check Metrics and Problems;
    • Proposes Improvement Ideas and new Standards;
    • Follow Standards;
    • Follows the Team or Opinion Leader;
    • Tells success stories.

Team or Opinion Leader

  • Attends the TDP Train the Trainer Workshop;
  • Starts the Team Board (1 per Theme);
  • Trains his Team “One Theme at a Time” (ex: 1 Theme / Month);
  • Trains during job time (ex: 2 to 4 h / person) ;
  • Follows a “Training Standard Manual”;
  • Behaves like “The Teacher” (best way to learn is having to teach).
  • Starts Behaving for Setup Time Reduction (lead by example);
  • Example of Daily Behavior:
    • 5 min daily meeting to check Metrics and Problems;
    • Works on the Problem Solving;
    • Works on the Action Plan (get things done);
    • Improves Standards and OPL´s;
    • Trains Team New Skills (using Matrix and Instruction Standards);
    • Motivates the Team;
    • Writes and Tells success stories.

Kaizen Behavior Themes

Operators /Team Members

Value Stream Projects and Gemba Kaizen Workshops originate Behavior Themes !

  • 5 S and Visual Management(Work areas)
  • Quality Kobetsu (Waste)
  • Setup Reduction (Change over Time)
  • Standard Work (Movements)
  • Autonomous Maintenance 1, 2, 3 (Machine 5S)
  • Planned Maintenance 1, 2, 3 (Breakdowns)
  • Efficiency Kobetsu (Stoppages)
  • Efficiency Office

Team or Opinion Leader

Strategy Deployment Scorecards originate Areas and Themes

  • Production
  • Maintenance
  • Support Departments
  • Any Organizational Function / Process

TDP Process Steps

     1Program Planning

  • What Areas ?
  • What Key Behaviors ?
  • What Key Trainers ?
  • What Training Agendas ?

      2. Trainers Workshop

  • Train the Trainer Program
  • Validate Content
  • Coach and Support Trainers

      3OJ Training

  • Trainers train their people On The Job (flexible timings)
  • Coach and Support Trainers to Lead by Example

      4.  Audit and Reinforce

  • Define and Apply Behavioral Checklists
  • Publish and Promote Success Stories
  • Reinforce Key Behaviors by Eliminating Conflicts
  • Recognize Teams Achievements

       5Standardize and Next Steps

  • Standardize Trainers and Teams Agendas for Daily Kaizen and Help Chain
  • Decide New Key Behaviors and Restart

P.S. If your leaders and colleagues are also interested in this subject, do them a favor and share this link. They may thank you for your concern and initiative.

Looking for more info on Kaizen/Lean/Operational Excellence? Click here









Leave a comment

Lean Transformation

First-ever Lean Transformation Summit in Sri Lanka in November, 4th & 5th November, 2014

On 4 and 5 November 2014, the Institute of Lean Management Ltd (ILM) had organized a two day conference at the Waters Edge to promote world class practices in the manufacturing and service sectors. Mr. Vinod Grover, Founding Director, Kaizen Institute India was invited as a Keynote Speaker

The theme of the Summit was ‘Strengthening National Productivity through Lean Management’ The focus areas of the summit were: Lean concepts, How to Inculcate and Sustain Lean Culture, Lean Leadership, The Role of Human Resources in Lean Transformation, Right Management Infrastructure for Lean, Developing Front Line Leadership for Lean, Lean Hospital and Lean Banking and also Why Lean Transformation efforts fail at times.

To read more click here


Kanban: An approach to an evolutionary process

Kanban: The term is Japanese, meaning ”Sign” or “signboard”

In lean manufacturing Kanban is the specific tool for:

  • Controlling information (functions as a physical tool)
  • Regulating material conveyance (combines control over movement of material with respect to both time and quantity)

Between upstream and downstream production process

Kanban is thus a signaling devicethat gives authorization and instruction for the production or withdrawal of items/goods

streamKanban coupled with takt time, flow processing, pull production, and level scheduling is what enables Just-in-time production

to be achieved in a value stream

Kanban “forms”

Kanban paper cards are the best known and most common examples of these signals within a single facility

Kanban can be:

  • Triangular metal plates
  • electronic signals (when communicating over long distances or inter-facility)
  • Colored balls

Or any other devices that can convey the needed information while preventing introduction of erroneous instructions

Basic information in a kanban

  • Part name
  • Part number
  • External or internal supplying process
  • Lot size
  • Pack quantity
  • Storage address
  • Consuming process address/location

A bar code may be printed for tracking or automatic invoicing

Purpose of Kanban

  • Prevent overproduction (and conveyance) of material between production process
  • Provide specific production instructions between process based upon replenishment principles
  • Serve as a visual control tool for production supervisor to determine schedule adherence status
  • Establish a tool for continuous improvement. Over time reduction in the number of kanban since each kanban represents a container of inventory


There are main 2 types of kanban

1 types of kanban

Distinctive features between the 2

  • Make Kanban

Instruction kanban signals to make something/products to an upstream process for a downstream process

  • Move Kanban

Withdrawal kanban signals that something/products need to be removed from inventory (which then triggers replenishment) and conveyed to a downstream

  1. In-process Kanban

The In-process kanban is used to convey make instructions for small amounts (at least one pitch corresponding to one pack quantity) to an upstream process.

Typical uses include scheduling final production areas based upon withdrawal of inventory from a market or a direct replenishment signal from a customer.

  1. Signal Kanban

The signal kanban is used to convey make instruction for large quantities to upstream batch process.

Signal kanban utilizes lot size in conjunction with market s to feed downstream process while still allowing time for changeover to occur at upstream process

There are 3 variations on the signal kanban: Triangle kanban, pattern production and lot making

  1. Inter-process Kanban

The Inter-process kanban is used to signal the need to withdraw parts from a storage area and convey them to a downstream process withina facility.

A prerequisite for use of the withdrawal kanban is the creation of a material market as well as determination of storage quantities at lineside.

It is normally employed in conjunction with continuous –flow cells that use a large number of s from internal or external sources

  1. Supplier Kanban

The supplier kanban is used to signal the need to withdraw parts from an external supplier for conveyance to a purchased-market or central market at the downstream process


  • Temporary kanban

There are short term events that require additional kanban to be injected into the system for smooth production.

Reasons could be temporary buildup of inventory to adjust lost time. It is for one-time use only and shows an expiry date

  • Kanban in combination (Dual card kanban)

Production and withdrawal kanban are used in combination to control pull production between processes where some work-in-process must be stored in markets

Dual card kanban allows lot splitting. The transfer batch quantity between work stations, governed by withdrawal kanbans, may be a smallerquantity than the production batch size governed by production kanban

Example of Production and withdrawal kanban


Kanban system (external supplier) over view


Prerequisites for successful Kanban implementation

  • Reasonably stable demand
  • Reasonably capable process
  • Preventive maintenance or TPM
  • Reasonably short changeovers times
  • Disciplined workforce -including management

Priority Kanban Board

Operations where there is changeover and/or changing priorities a priority Kanban boardis the usual option

It displays all the products that go through the work centre

The board indicates priority as 1, 2, 3, —-or has bands of green, yellow or red

Kanban hanging in the green zone is a low priority authorization and in the red zone the product to be taken the very next one

Priority Kanban board


Number of kanban cards

The general rule on kanban is to start “loose”,with a generous amount of safety stock and to move towards “tight kanban”gradually, but steadily.

The philosophy is to gradually reduce inventory (Muda) either by removing/reducing kanbans or reducing the kanban quantity

The number of kanban depends on demand. When demand changes the number of kanban should change

In line with lean manufacturing the number of cards in circulation should be generally “less than last time” progressively

7-Rules for using kanban

  1. The down stream process (Customer) pulls from the upstream process
  2. The upstream process (Supplier) produces & replenishes the quantity taken away
  3. No defect/ Defective partsshould be allowed to pass on to the next process
  4. Kanban must be alwaysattachedand conveyedwith the part or container
  5. No parts can be produced or conveyed without a kanbaninstruction
  6. The quantity indicated on the kanban must equalthe actual amount in the container (to ensure accuracy of  Information
  7. The number of kanban is reduced carefullyto lower inventories and reveal problems


Acknowledgement: Mr. Vinod Grover – Kaizen Institute India

P.S. If your leaders and colleagues are also interested in this subject, do them a favor and share this link. They may thank you for your concern and initiative.

Looking for more info on Kaizen/Lean/Operational Excellence? Click here


1 Comment

Change habits to change culture

You will find tons of material & discussions happening on CULTURE. Culture is defined differently by different people and therefore it becomes difficult to accept one particular definition of CULTURE. More than this what is difficult is to measure culture in a manner that most of the people find it acceptable. The acceptability factor is more important if a measure of culture is going to be used to drive changes in behavior.

Change Management Model

A group of Habits becomes your behavior and when certain group of people starts behaving in a particular way, it becomes a culture. Therefore if you want to change culture change habits. Also note that performance can also be changed by changing the Habits & Climate/Physical workplace environment.

Habits drive culture and Kaizen is a journey of moving from Current set of habits to Better set of habits. Pick a few habits, change them, celebrate, and keep moving forward one step at a time. But often organizations & employees makes mistake when it comes to Behavior Change. Below given are top 10 mistakes:

  1. Relying on willpower for long-term change
  •         Solution: Imagine willpower doesn’t exist. That’s step 1 to a better future.
  1. Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps
  •         Solution: Seek tiny successes….one after another
  1. Ignoring how Climate/Physical workplace environment shapes behaviors
  •         Change your context and your change your life
  1. Trying to stop old behaviors instead of creating new ones
  •         Focus on actions, not avoidance
  1. Blaming failures on lack of motivation
  •         Make the behavior easier to do
  1. Underestimating power of triggers
  •         No behavior happens without a trigger
  1. Believing that information leads to action
  •         We humans aren’t so rational
  1. Focusing on abstract goals more than concrete behaviors
  •        Get in shape
  1. Seeking to change behavior forever, not for a short time.
  •         A fixed period works better than “forever”

10. Assuming that behavior change is difficult

  •         Behavior change is not so hard when you have the right process

Source of top 10 mistakes: Stanford University’s Persuasive Tech Lab

Organizations cannot change their culture unless individual employees change their behaviour/habits. But how do you facilitate this change in behaviour/habit and go beyond behavioural change alone to true transformation. To know the answer to this question, there is great article written by Keith Ferrazzi. His article outlines the ways in which leaders can learn about corporate culture change. Click here to read further.

P.S. If your leaders and colleagues are also interested in this subject, do them a favor and share this link. They may thank you for your concern and initiative.

Looking for more info on Kaizen/Lean/Operational Excellence? Click here





Leave a comment

Kaizen Support Office: Vital to lean culture

If an organization is planning to start the journey of Kaizen/Lean, it is very important that management understands the nature of the entire Kaizen/Lean enterprise and then commit to a long term plan. Therefore Management Understanding & Commitment is the first step towards this journey. It is very important to see if the organization is ready to make such commitment to Kaizen/Lean  and is ready to devote/supply necessary resources & time to meet the goals of becoming a Lean organization.

But we have also noticed that many organizations fail and the main reason behind this is “top management is not committed.” Therefore if management do not understand Kaizen/Lean completely and is not committed towards building a culture of Kaizen/Lean you are doomed to fail.

Once management understands & is committed you should start focusing on setting organizational directions but many organizations finds it difficult when it comes to setting organizational directions. Generally the “do nots” are what is highlighted in the handbook or on the shop floor and these “do nots” are based on the past experience of accidents or incidents or abnormality that is caused by people. Therefore while setting organizational directions if you are not careful you may fall in the trap of such legislations. The Kaizen Support Office (KSO) is the perfect example of heading all Kaizen/Lean related activities which may take care of Systems, Training, Workshops, Targets, etc. A steering committee must be formed who can not only take care of cross-functionality  & representation of workers but also helps reinforce abnormality management & sustenance of improvements done. Such steering committee consists of top management, people responsible of setting directions (pillar experts), external consultants & union council (if required).

1. CI lean structure




– Sets the direction of the process (Target Definition)
– Determines the scope of activities
– Ensures the availability of necessary resources
– Carries out audit regularly and ensures that corrections are made whenever necessary
– Provides acknowledgement and support in difficult situations


– Regular meeting (Interval of 4-6 weeks)
– Duration max. 90 minutes
– Fixed structure for meeting
– Visualization and communication of results and decisions



– Support and coaching for the process of change
– Educating and training the parties involved
– Helping out in difficult processes and tasks
– Implement a system of visualization and result control
– Enabling implementation on-the-spot
– Securing the process through regular audits


– Execution of GEMBA Workshops according to standards
– Helping in the creation of a “Road Map”
– Implementing regular audits
– Helping to create training plans
– Helping to build-up an improvement organisation



– Serves as interconnecting link between the Steering Team, the Teams of Experts and the affected departments
– Organisation of Workshops (Invitation, documents etc.)
– Verification of the implementation of actions
– Qualification of staff
– Coordination of Meetings, Trainings, Workshops


– Qualification measures for staff
– Road Map and coordination of Action plans
– Create and control standards for codes
– Visualization and presentation of successes
– Organisation of training for methods and techniques



– Execution and coordination of KAIZEN activities in own department
– Education and training of colleagues
– Helping in the implementation of actions
– Maintenance of KAIZEN Board for own team


– Participation in the development of Standard Catalog
– Organising the implementation of standards
– Documentation and monitoring of actions
– Audit planning in own area
– Visualization of the successes of own team



– Creation of rules guiding the respective knowledge pillars
– Creation of factory-wide standards and guiding rules
– On-the-spot support for teams with technical competence and know-how
– Regular process auditing


– Information on factory-wide standards and rules
– Preparatory work for the Steering Team on final decision
– Organising regular Team meetings of the Team of Experts



– Attendance of regular Improvement meetings
– Participation in advanced training
– Participation in problem-solving in the team
– Assumption of personal responsibility and sponsorship
– Active participation in the implementation of ideas


– Coordination in teams across various shifts
– Using same methods and informing colleagues
– Joint and participatory creation of meeting plan



– To support the process of change actively
– Participation in improvement workshops
– Help in the implementation of actions
– Participation in the shaping of reasonable, feasible processes
– Leading by example in change activities


– Creating an environment for change
– Organising release or backfill for staff
– Organising the release of machines and facilities
– Support of visual management
– Maintenance of the qualification matrix of staffs

Kaizen Support Office – Organizational Structure

2 Kaizen Support Office

Kaizen Support Office – Responsibilities

3 Kaizen Support Office - Responsibilities

Quick Recap on Action Items

  1. Look whether top management is committed
  2. Develop Improvement Roadmap & Kaizen/Lean vision
  3. Form KSO & Steering committee and Train them
  4. Implement the improvement roadmap
  5. Sustain improvement done with the help of KSO & teams.

P.S. If your leaders and colleagues are also interested in this subject, do them a favor and share this link. They may thank you for your concern and initiative.

Looking for more info on Kaizen/Lean/Operational Excellence? Click here