Kaizen Experiences

Forums Academic discussion Manufacturing Kaizen Experiences

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    Allison Winek

    Has anyone participated in a Kaizen event/workshop at an internship, co-op, or other job? What were some things you enjoyed about it, and are there any major takeaways you’d like to share?

    John Silva

    Hi Allison,

    I actively support kaizen events across my facility. When done right, they are a great way to get quick results, and engage employees. When done poorly, they quickly halt continuous improvement efforts.

    Some tips I have are:

    • Heavily involve the people that work in the area
    • Do your pre-work before you kick-off the event
    • Get time dedicated from the participants – clear the calendars
    • Don’t drag it out – I target a week of work
    Kjerstin Gronski

    Hello Allison.

    I was extremely involved in Kaizen events in my manufacturing facility when I was a process engineer in the plant. My company has a continuous Improvement Engineering team that is responsible for a lot of things but most of all running and facilitating Kaizens. The formation of this team was a conscious decision on the part of the upper management because they know the importance of these types of projects and events. I always would encourage all people to get involved in these types of events because they really open up peoples minds about change in the workplace.

    I would recommend a few things (along with all of the ones John mentioned above):

    1. I believe it is equally important to have the process experts from the area, the operators that work in the area, and outside people who do not know the area well. I came into doing Kaizens thinking it should only be people intimately involved in the process but I have seen a lot of positive impacts come from having people in these types of discussions that are not very familiar with the process.

    2. Encourage and facilitate group discussions and encourage ALL participants to share opinions. This can be very hard with certain individuals that are not as comfortable sharing their opinions, but you loose out on gains(and often buy-in) if you don’t get all the opinions from the participants.





    I lead and attended Kaizen events on the production floor during my internship at a medical device company. Some lessons I took away from these experiences include:

    • Involve a wide variety of perspectives
    • Assign pre-work and use data to back up all conclusions
    • Go to the Gemba
    • Encourage group discussion
    • Create an agenda and stay on task
    • Send follow-up email with next steps

    I worked on 2 kaizen events at my internship this summer. I thought it was really cool because I had learned a lot of useful information in ISyE 315 that I was able to bring to that event and teach my coworkers. It was interesting to see the different perspectives people had about the task/area of production we were looking at. My coworkers were especially interested in my viewpoint because I was new to the company/industry, so I had “fresh eyes”.


    ISyE 515 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a great class to take to learn and experience a Kaizen event. The class is project-based; each group is paired with a company in the Madison/Milwaukee area and conducts a Kaizen project for those companies. It is great experience to act as consultants for real companies and conduct meaningful Kaizen projects and practice ISyE principles.

    Benny Boelter

    I participated in a Kaizen Event during an internship after freshman year of college. It was truly eye opening to watch a group of experts in their fields banter and collaborate towards a common goal. There were times when team members got frustrated, but as long as the facilitator is level-headed and focused, Kaizen events can be a very efficient problem solving opportunity.


    Through my experience, I would like to share both the overwhelming success and initial struggle an organization has faced by organizing these events. The Management started “Kaizen events” with a target time frame of half-yearly where everyone in the organization right from the top-level management to the shop floor people was encouraged to identify and work towards the improvement of already established processes through a team activity. Initially, people were hesitant thinking these events might be one-off and didn’t participate in the event due to their own daily schedule. But few people who were new to the organization where upbeat about the opportunity provided to them and started identifying improvement projects. The first Kaizen event involved only 2-3 teams, but the management decided to continue the event understanding its benefits and organized a factory level gathering in the shop floor where all levels of employees were invited to attend. The Management displayed the results of the first Kaizen event which the participated teams were able to achieve. This initiative of quantifying the results made everyone believe that these improvement projects do help in improving the already established processes. This visual representation / quantifying the result gave all employees a sense of involvement and encouraged them to work towards continuous improvement projects. The second kaizen event saw an increased number of team turnout working on Kaizen projects. The department level managers started encouraging their department members to form teams and work on projects apart from their daily scheduled work.


    Through the workshop completed in one of the ISyE courses we demonstrated and understood the below mentioned key factors involved in Kaizen events.
    Communication: Helps in involving people to discuss the problem faced by them in processes and work towards improvement activities. Also helps in sharing one’s idea in approaching the task on hand.
    Improvements: In order to achieve the customer satisfaction, the organization must be willing to endlessly improve continually in small steps rather than working on a big project which might consume more time and resources. Thus, continuous improvements help in setting higher standards each time compared to the previously done improvement in the same process.
    Team Work: Team work helps in achieving the competitiveness by working towards a common goal and thus preventing a problem from recurrence. The team work also helps in identifying and implementing the improvements in processes that needs to be addressed.
    Elimination of Waste: Any activity that is non-value-adding to the customer or product needs to be focused or eliminated at the earliest.

    Andrew Haen

    As other members have stated, I also took ISyE 515. My major takeaway is to treat the class as a benefit for your client, rather than focusing on what you believe should be done. The success of your kaizen project ultimately depends on your relationship with the client. Visiting weekly or bi-weekly is a must, as well as, exchanging emails frequently.

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