Kaizen Jitsu

The ‘HOW’ that is missing from many improvement efforts

A Lean Six Sigma transformation can enable operations to drive the overall business strategy, through the creation of many tangible business benefits.  Quality may increase through improved process yields and reduce scrap and rectification costs.  Cost improves through reduced conversion costs, improved cash flow, and higher return on assets.  Delivery can improve through shortened production lead times which more flexible operations that can respond quickly to changes in customer demand.

Despite attempts, most businesses have not been able to capture or sustain the benefits of a Lean Six Sigma transformation.  Lean Six Sigma represents a fundamental change and most businesses have pursued change in tactical, rather than a strategic manner.  Most failed Lean Six Sigma transformations can be attributed to lack of true senior management commitment and understanding of the change process.  Moreover, the methodology of many companies is to rely on a series of quick-hit approaches that deliver short term benefits, but aren’t sustainable in the longer term. Add to this the reluctance of many companies to consider the business as a whole rather than just concentrating on operations or manufacturing and you have a recipe for failure.

The team at Beyondlean have recognised and experienced these potential pitfalls and have created a programme that can help lead a business through the change process. The Beyondlean programme creates the Lean Six Sigma infrastructure to maximise the chance of sustainability.  Ultimately, we cannot guarantee the sustainability of the system if the Business is not willing to invest the required time, resource, and commitment to the change process.  If a business is ready to embark on this Lean Six Sigma journey, then operations can not only become a competitive advantage, but also deliver new strategic opportunities.

Follow the steps shown here to improve your operation and watch the Kaizen Jitsu video to understand the ‘HOW’


The key outcomes from the Define stage are to understand the problem facing us:

  • What’s the current situation is it rumour opinion or fact or is it unknown?
  • What is the objective for improvement?
  • What are the key inputs and outputs?
  • Who are the customers?
  • What is the spec and how often are we on target?

Where Are We Going – How Will We Know When We Get There?

  • What’s the purpose of this project?
  • What prompted it?
  • Why is it  important to work on this now?
  • How much improvement are we looking to make and by when?
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • How will customers be affected?
  • How will we know if things improve?
  • What data or information is needed?
  • What’s the broad plan?

Some of the Tools used in DEFINE include but aren’t limited to:

  • Improvement Charter
  • Lateral Thinking
  • Voice of the Customer / CTQ matrix
  • SIPOC diagram


The Measure phase identifies the critical input and process variables and priorities them according to their impact upon the process output.  To further the team’s understanding, if it hasn’t been prepared in the previous step, a detailed as-is map is developed and information is collected on cycle time, process yield and work in process.

Measure Checklist

  • Determined what we want to learn about our process, and where we want to go to get the answer
  • Identified the types of measures we want to collect
  • Developed clear, unambiguous operational definitions of the things or attributes we want to measure
  • Tested our operational definitions with others to ensure their clarity and consistent interpretation
  • Made a clear, reasonable choice between gathering new data or taking advantage of existing data collected in the department (or company)
  • Developed and tested data collection forms (or other mechanisms) which are easy to use and provide consistent, and complete data
  • Identified and appropriate sample size, subgroup quantity, and sampling frequency to ensure valid representation of the process we are measuring
  • Prepared and tested our measurement system, including training of collectors and assessment of data collection stability OR given sounds reasons to omit a MSA**
  • Used data to prepare baseline process performance measures, including proportion defective and / or process capability and / or performance gap as appropriate

Value stream mapping is the start to any lean transformation “Where you can flow you flow Where you can’t flow – You Pull !  A Value Stream Map is a diagram of all actions (both value added and non-value added) required to bring a product through from raw material to the arms of the customers.

Representation of Current State: reveals waste and its sources

Representation of Future State: explains how lean business will flow


The goal of the Analyse phase is to identify and verify bottle necks, waste and complexity on the process.  This Phase combines process tools with statistical analysis to focus in on root causes form the basis for solutions in the next phase of the project.  Although this phase does emphasise statistics, in reality (again for service processes), due to the large amount of natural variation, descriptive statistics are often more relevant!!!


The goal of the improve phase is to demonstrate that the solutions selected address the root causes of the problem and lead to real and lasting improvement.


Overview of the CONTROL Phase, during the Improve phase, the solution was piloted, and plans were made for full-scale implementation.

Putting a solution in place can fix a problem for a period, but in order to ensure that lasting improvements are maintained it is important to put controls in place to monitor performance and take corrective action where necessary.  The steps of this phase are equivalent to the steps one would take in setting up a Process Management System.  If your process already exists in the PMS then it should just be a question of updating the relevant PMS documents for the process in question.

The control plan should have been defined in the Improve phase, this phase (in part) is about the implementation of the control plan


How are Cultures shaped?

  • Largely a direct result of the behaviour, values and beliefs of the leadership
  • Change agents within an organisation who exhibit a ‘pioneering spirit’
  • Define a ‘picture’ and ‘feel’ of the desired future
  • Plan a strategy and roadmap to make it happen
  • Involve as many people as possible who will define it, create a plan and take the actions necessary for it to be realised
  • Effort, skill and patience

Making it Stick

What determines whether change ‘Sticks’ or not ?  In order for anything to remain in place, it has to be accepted as ‘The norm’ or the ‘Modus Operandi’, or put quite simply,  ‘It’s the way we do things around here’.

The change must become part of the culture of the organisation. If it doesn’t, it will always be ‘The stuff we have to do as well as our day job’ and will be dropped at the earliest opportunity.

……….Now we get into HOW we go about changing the beliefs, behaviours and actions of the key people connected to the change programme. This can only be achieved by influencing, negotiating, demonstrating the benefits and getting the stakeholders to WANT to do things differently.

Some say these are the ‘Soft skills’ or the ‘Fluffy stuff’ or ‘People skills’ and that some people have these as a natural ability but they can’t really be taught to people who don’t ‘Have it’.

That’s absolute garbage!  This is an exact science, as exact a science as physics.