What Is A Kaizen Blitz?
Kaizen Blitz (or Kaizen Event) is a focused, short-term project to improve a process. It
includes training followed by a analysis, design, and, often, re-arrangement of a product line
or area. Process and Value Stream Mapping
are important tools. The usual Kaizen Event takes 2-10 days.
Significant resources such as Engineering and Maintenance must be available. Cell
Operators are part of the team. A consultant often orchestrates the "Blitz".
Advantages of The Kaizen Blitz
Following von Clausewitz' principle of "concentration" it focuses all resources towards a
narrow and specific objective. The intensity and urgency overcomes the intellectual resistance
to a new paradigm. People have little time to think of reasons for delay. It forces solutions.
The execution is dramatic. The results are significant, clear and quick. This generates
enthusiasm and satisfaction. The Blitz is a great introductory tool for Lean Manufacturing and
its components of Rapid Setup and Workcells.
Dangers in The Blitz
The training, for a Blitz is necessarily superficial. There is insufficient time for
deep learning of principles, tradeoffs, and design methodology.
The Blitz does not allow time to develop important corollary elements of Lean
Manufacturing. Total Quality management, for example, takes time to introduce and produce
results. Teams take months or years to properly develop. These are often forgotten in the
afterglow of an event.
The overall process may suffer. These events focus on localized areas, and As Goldratt
said, "A system of local optimums is not an optimum system." It can result in islands of
productivity within a factory that, overall, is a mess.
A Kaizen Blitz is not a substitute for Manufacturing Strategy. Like the infamous 1941
Blitz at Pearl Harbor, a successful tactic can lead to ultimate disaster without sound
Where and when is the Blitz OK?
At the beginning of Lean Implementation to shift paradigms and quickly demonstrate
When an experienced practitioner identifies a simple, independent family of products and
processes that fit the slogans and edicts.
When the event is part of a well thought out Manufacturing Strategy.
Our series on Implementation shows how to
think through the systemic and strategic issues of lean. It can help avoid the dangers of
over-reliance on Kaizen Events.
Targets For A Blitz
Originally, Kaizen Events targeted a single work area or single product that might have no
more than 20 or so people. Because the scope and scale were limited, the event included
rearrangement and implementation of the
various improvements. Kaizen events were used for:
We have also had success with Kaizen events that address problems having much larger scale
and scope. In one instance, this involved a national company with 20,000 employees and about 10
semi-autonomous divisions. Their problem was that it took 90 days to install a particular
product while their competitors required only a few weeks. A team of 30 people from all regions
and from ten separate functional areas developed solutions that drastically cut their
Rommel, Patton, MacArthur, Hap Arnold, and all military leaders who enjoyed long-term success
trained their troops intensely. No matter how colorful their personalities and tactics, they
knew that training, learning, and competence is the real basis of success for any organization.