This article will briefly discuss:
- why are kaizen tools important?;
- what is the kaizen technique?;
- what are the 4 main kaizen principles?;
- kaizen tools to achieve continuous improvement success factors;
- advantages of using mobile-ready kaizen tools & templates; and
- free kaizen tools & templates you can download, customize, and use.
Since kaizen means “change for the better”, the use of kaizen tools results in more efficient ways of doing tasks and more effective communication between shifts, work areas, and organization levels. Taking advantage of mobile-ready kaizen tools and templates can help cross-functional teams easily identify wastes, execute action plans, and report new changes.
Kaizen as a business improvement technique is often practiced through a top-down approach, where the management demonstrates its commitment to operational efficiency. The kaizen technique of eliminating wastes to streamline workflows can be practically applied through a project-based format which is often called a kaizen blitz.
There are actually 5 fundamental kaizen principles according to the Kaizen Institute, founded by Masaaki Imai—widely considered as the Father of Kaizen. It is unknown how the notion that there are “4 main kaizen principles”, sometimes 10 or even 15, developed, but they are probably variations or compressed/expanded versions of the 5 kaizen principles:
- Principle #1: Know Your Customer
- Principle #2: Let It Flow
- Principle #3: Go to Gemba
- Principle #4: Empower People
- Principle #5: Be Transparent
Continuous improvement begins with the admission that every organization has problems which provide opportunities for change. Here are 3 key factors cross-functional teams can do to successfully implement kaizen:
Focus on improving the process
Organizations usually fail in implementing kaizen because of reverting to a conventional approach of continuous improvement: “employees are the problem”. In implementing kaizen, apply a process-emphasis approach with kaizen tools by measuring performance, eliminating wastes, and changing the process for the better. Employees and management should understand how their job fits in the process because good processes bring good results.
Enable people to do better
The people most knowledgeable about a task are those that perform it, so ownership of the process is raised to its highest level by involving them and showing confidence in their capabilities. Kaizen tools enable cross-functional teams to go where the real work happens and grasp the current situation because big results come from small changes everyone does on a daily basis.
Commit with data-driven decisions
Performance and improvements should be tangible and visible, so everyone is constantly reminded of implementing kaizen. Employees and management should practice speaking with data and managing facts.
iAuditor by SafetyCulture can help organizations easily implement and monitor continuous improvement efforts by easily accessing kaizen tools anytime, anywhere, and on any iOS, Android, or Windows mobile device. Take photos and make annotations in the app and automatically generate and share kaizen reports to members of your organization.
Use for free with small teams. Unlimited storage and real-time analytics for premium accounts. With iAuditor, you can empower people with the following mobile-ready kaizen tools:
Top Kaizen Tools & Templates
5S Audit Checklist
This 5S Audit Checklist is a tool used by area supervisors or plant managers to perform monthly or quarterly audits. Use this checklist to ensure that 5S principles and set standards are being followed and implemented by workers. Start by taking or attaching photo evidence of workspace and add remarks or comments. Assign corrective actions for non-compliant items and promote accountability in doing audits by capturing the digital signature of the area supervisor or plant manager. Finally, share comprehensive reports with the members of your organization as you complete the 5S Audit.
Gemba Walk Checklist
Use this Gemba Walk checklist to document interviews, challenges and opportunities identified from your Gemba Walks. Begin the inspection with the description of work and list down the names of participants. Ask the employees if they are meeting the goals set for them and get their input about the process. Observe how employees solve their challenges and document their solutions and resources used for the job. Ask employees if they have concerns that they wanted to raise to the management. Lastly, provide your input on how to put in place and sustain a better process.
5 Whys Template
A 5 whys template can help ensure that business teams resolve the root cause of problems to avoid them from recurring. This 5 whys template has been designed to make it easier for you to ask and answer the question, “Why?”. Conduct follow throughs on the effectiveness of your solutions and improve accountability with your employees. Our featured 5 whys template enables you to clearly define the problem, answer why the problem occurred, check if the root cause is discovered, provide a solution to the root cause of a problem, and create and assign an action.
7 Wastes Checklist
A 7 wastes checklist is used by quality managers to reduce the 7 wastes of lean manufacturing: transport, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, overprocessing, and defects. Use this digital 7 wastes checklist to easily detect any of the 7 wastes, ensure the efficiency of daily processes and achieve operational excellence.
8 Wastes Checklist
An 8 wastes checklist is used by area supervisors to identify any of the 8 wastes (based on 7 wastes with non-utilized talent as 8th waste) and eliminate them in the workplace. This intuitive 8 wastes checklist include potential causes for each waste such as waiting for information, materials, and equipment too long or steps in the process that do not add value to the customer.
6S Lean Safety Checklist
Use the 6S Lean Safety Checklist to identify hazards or potential risks while performing tasks in the workplace. This 6S lean safety checklist is based on the 5S principles (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain) with safety as the 6th “S”. Take a photo of steps or activities conducted and generate a report onsite.
8D Report Template
An 8D report template is used to document a comprehensive root-cause analysis based on the 8 Disciplines of Problem-Solving, previously known as the Team-Oriented Problem-Solving. 8D teams can easily generate a detailed report with the use of this template. Effective system changes that improve the quality and reliability of your product/service can be derived from an 8D report.
An FMEA template aims to identify potential problems in a process, product or design and prevent their adverse effects on customers. You can also customize this digital FMEA template based on your company requirements. Monitor the implementation and effectiveness of corrective actions with the use of this template. Our featured FMEA template empowers product design and process improvement teams to describe the process function, identify the mechanism of failure, determine the RPN, create and complete corrective actions, and validate the FMEA with digital signatures.
A DMAIC template can help ensure the application of DMAIC methodology (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) as a root-cause analysis for process improvements. Start by defining the project goals and listing customer deliverables. Next, measure the current performance of the process to quantify the problem. Analyze until the root cause has been identified and improve the design, system, and/or process with assessed and re-evaluated solutions. Finally, specify the monitoring and control system in place and complete the DMAIC with your digital signature.