By Michael Hughes
Drafting a better kaizen
April is a time when casual fans entertain thoughts other than the National Football League (American football, for our international contingent).
Only die-hard fans and watchers of the ESPN sports channels pay close attention to the league draft at the end of this month. But the draft is just one piece of a system that builds winning football teams, and every piece is important if you want to apply their lessons to your own kaizen implementation. This month’s cover story, “Kaizen Blitz,” which starts on Page 28, makes that point clear.
Satya S. Chakravorty and Richard M. Franza diagram the problems an aerospace company had in sustaining its early kaizen successes. In a process familiar to many IEs, the company developed improvement teams and assigned improvement experts in a haphazard fashion. Still, the initial results were promising and were celebrated with much fanfare.
Then, as so often happens, the kaizen event ended, the improvement experts moved on, and team members gradually paid less attention to their lessons. Successes dwindled into nothingness.
Contrast that with the NFL, where the Sunday games in fall and winter are only the most visible part of continual process improvement. Successful teams don’t throw their players on the field in a haphazard fashion. Instead, coaches and executives carefully select their team members via the draft and free agency, train them during various camps held throughout the year, and develop leading players, like the quarterback and defensive captains, into coaches on the field.
Continual processes of improvement and training, key to success on the field, also can be key to success in all sectors of your organization. But, as the authors note, you must choose and deploy your improvement leaders and teams wisely.
In the NFL, the ones who best follow through on their “kaizen” implementation get to hear their quarterback exclaim, “I’m going to Disney World!” after a Super Bowl win.
With enough success, perhaps you can carry your own kaizen improvement teams to a championship.
Michael Hughes is managing editor of IIE. Reach him at email@example.com or (770) 349-1110.