Do you want to inch up the charts or do you want to leap? I think that is the greatest reason Lean-style thinking has develop Kaizan events. Focus on results and "LET'S GITTER DONE!"
However, if you want to get something accomlished having a trained practicioner or Black Belt may prove very beneficial to you. This way you can be sure of adequate preparation and a toolbox full of tools that may be needed during the event. They will use a variety of tools to include Pareto Charts, Fish-Bone and Mini-Tab, Names that you may be familar with but unless you have utilized them several times, you will labor through them. Like all software and instruments, it is in the interpretation of the data is where the gold is. The instruments do not just spit out the right answer.
Peter Keen, Chairman of Keen Innovations says; "Characterizing kaizen as simply "continuous improvement" trivializes the concept and portrays it as cautious and lacking in imagination... More typically, the implementation of kaizen reflects a radical commitment to an entire way of operating that requires floor-to-ceiling change in management, work, manager-worker relationships, discipline, decision making, and the organization of knowledge that transforms an organization into a federation of problem solvers."
These are not simple brainstorming sessions. these are orchestrated events that will allow you to put a plan of action together. Many managers are intrigued by Kaizan because it allows them to form a strong focused approach which can accelerate implemntation. I have seen some use the terminology a beachhead for their project implementation. Also, another important ingredient is having people at the event that can make a decision. It is not meant to be an event that you have to seek approval. However, if you want to jumpstart your quality inititatives, start with Kaizen.I was reading a past Ten Step Project Management Newsletter about the cost of quality and thought it was a great addition to the above.
Building quality steps in the workplan adds a certain amount of effort and cost to the project. However, these incremental costs will be rewarded with increased benefits and reduced costs throughout the life cycle of the solution. Examples of the cost of quality include:
Deliverable reviews. There is a cost associated with the time of the people attending the reviews. This includes any preparation, the actual review time for all participants, and the resulting follow-up work from the review
Creation of the Quality Plan. The time required to plan quality into the project and the solution, including identifying completeness and correctness criteria. Client approval. The time and effort required to validate that the client has reviewed interim and final deliverables and has formally approved them as being correct and complete.
Testing. Testing is a part of the development life cycle, but it is also done to ensure the solution meets requirements and quality standards. Quality control standards. Relevant standards utilized throughout the project and/or the organization.
Audits. Audits are opportunities to have an outside party review the processes used to create your deliverables. Third party auditors provide a fresh perspective and unbiased opinion on whether good work processes are defined and are followed.
Checklists. These are usually used to validate that all steps of a process were completed or all the components of a deliverable are in place.
Quality Control and Quality Assurance Groups - If your company has distinct groups that specialize in quality control or quality assurance, their costs are part of the overall costs of quality for the organization. Gathering metrics. Metrics are normally gathered to show the status of a process and to correct or improve the process if necessary.