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
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.