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Planning is Not a Dirty Word

17 Jul Planning is Not a Dirty Word

Planning can be drudgery, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, if we involve the team (particularly for Kaizen events), it can be used as a time to educate, train and involve those that will ultimately be involved in the changes. Since we have been discussing Kaizen events lately, I would like to discuss Kaizen Event Planning.

Even though a typical Kaizen event lasts about a week (although, they can be as short as a few minutes or as long as several weeks), the upfront planning may begin weeks (or even months) ahead of the project. Depending on the scope of the project, somewhere between several days and a few weeks may be needed to properly prepare for the event. Of course there are logistics (war room space, schedules, catering, etc) to prepare for, but the really important tasks relate to team preparation. In another post, we cover the importance and structure of a project charter, so I will assume that a good charter has been developed. Once the charter has been developed, the preparation can begin. If the charter has left the project scope a little vague, this is the time to clarify any lingering details.

If the charter has been developed without a value stream map (not recommended) one will most likely need to be developed during the planning process. Before the Value Stream or Process Maps can be developed, the team may need to be trained in these tools. For that matter, they may need to be trained in other lean tools such as 5S, Flow, etc. While some of the training that is specifically related to the event (such as an overview of Kaizen) may need to be delivered during the event, but I really prefer to complete as much of the training during the planning phase as possible.

During the planning phase, it is also important to confirm that the scope and boundaries of the project are consistent with the sponsor’s expectations. Additionally, details such as scheduling the final report out, meeting with union officials (if applicable) and introducing the team to the value stream should be completed. A schedule for the event should be developed and team availability should be confirmed. “The devil is in the details” never fails and the more time and effort I devote to the planning phase, the better my Kaizen projects go.

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