How to align Kaizen and business objectives?

When you have specific business improvement goals as part of your Business Plan and strategies, it is easier to identify where you should focus on kaizen activities.  But even if you don’t, you can still align your kaizen to your business goals.  Let’s take a look at how you would do it under each scenario.

Objectives, Strategies, and Action Plans

As part of the Business Plan, you have goals and objectives. They represent what you want to accomplish. The strategy is the way you choose to achieve those objectives. The plan is what tells you how you are going to do it. In other words, the strategy gives you the framework for decisions, and the action plan tells you the specific actions to achieve each goal.

For example, one of your objectives is to increase sales from x to y. The strategy or way to do it is by growing the business by 10%. Before making decisions, you would ask yourself how it will affect or support your goal. The action plan to achieve this objective is to increase brand awareness or introduce a special sale. These are specific steps that detail how you are going to accomplish the objective.

Kaizen as part of the action plan

Most entrepreneurs analyze the current year’s results and then develop next year’s goals. Achieving those goals means achieving the desired conditions for profitability, delivery, quality, and people. From these statements of intent, you move to develop specific objectives, a clear target, or destination.

The next step to build your business map is to establish a strategy, the way or process to achieve the objective. At this time, you can identify in what department or area this activity will have more impact on the KPI’s. Use this information to create a detailed plan of how to accomplish the target. Now you can incorporate continuous improvement or kaizen events as part of that plan. The kaizen events will help to achieve the objectives. These events will close the gap between the current state and the future state.

Continuous improvement or kaizen is not part of the business plan

When the business plan does not include the improvement plan, you can still align kaizen with it.  Under this scenario, your team is dealing with problems without a map to guide their actions with the business goals. Their actions impact productivity, quality, cost, and delivery.  Daily kaizen, and events, can help to overcome those challenges by improving the process and solving operational problems.  With daily kaizen, your team will tackle many pain points. However, some recurrent issues with high impact in the business deserve a kaizen event.

Before planning your events, understand the problems first. Engage your team in talking to key players and customers to learn about their pain points and needs. The same group can generate ideas for possible kaizen events. After this, validate those ideas to see if they align with the objectives or drive business KPI’s. With a refined list of kaizens, the next step is to prioritize. Do this based on the effort vs. impact or benefits level. After this, you are ready to start planning kaizen.

The critical of kaizen and business objectives

The critical part of both processes is to align kaizen with the business objectives. Maybe, it is easier to start with the target followed by the strategy, plan, and kaizen. But creating a pool of event ideas followed by validation and alignment with the objectives is efficient as well. The critical part of each scenario or method is to choose and target the right KPI’s. Your KPI’s should measure customer satisfaction, quality, delivery, and cost. Let’s keep improving!

What are your business goals?

you can achieve your business goals with continuous improvement

I bet that one of your business goals is to deliver high-quality products to the customer at the lowest cost. The goal of lean or continuous improvement is to provide the customer with the highest quality, at the lowest cost, in a shorter time. It sounds to me that both goals are the same, what do you think?  

Business goals and continuous improvement

Continuous improvement achieves the goal by continuously eliminating waste. To achieve your business goals, you need to learn what it is and eliminate it. Your customers don’t have problems paying for activities that transform materials into finished goods or processed information. We call those activities value-added.  However, they are not willing to pay for the waste in your process.

The customer should not pay for the cost of fixing errors, waiting time, or excess inventory. These activities are non-value-added or waste. Therefore, the target of continuous improvement is to eliminate them.

What is waste? The seven types of waste in continuous improvement

Waste has seven categories: transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over-production, over-processing, and defects. There is another category added later, which is the underutilization of people’s talents.

  • Transportation is an essential part of operations, but it does not add value from the customer perspective. The goal of CI is to minimize transportation to the minimum necessary.
  • Inventory of raw materials is also a necessary evil, but you do not want to have excess inventory. Excess inventory is at risk of being damaged or become obsolete.  
  • Any motion of a person’s body that is not related to adding value is a waste. Poor ergonomic designs make people move their bodies more than necessary, causing safety and productivity issues. 
  • Waiting for materials, for approvals, for a phone call, or for shared equipment to become available are all examples of waste.  
  • Over-production is when we make too much because we are producing ahead of the real demand. Over-production creates more waste in the form of inventory, motion, waiting, and others.
  • Over-processing is doing more than what the customer requires. For example, when you receive items in a box that is three times the appropriate size.
  • defect is when we make a mistake or produce defective items. Fix defective products comprise time, material, and other resources.  
  • Underutilization of people’s talents is not letting people work at their full capacity. Examples are lack of training, not trusting in their capacity to improve processes, and siloed thinking.

Achieve your business goals with continuous improvement

What are your business goals? Is one of them to deliver a high-quality product at a low cost? Are you targeting to increase your business profitability? Do you want to grow your business? If you answer yes to any of the last three questions, then continuous improvement is the business strategy you are looking for. Contact us, and we will work together to improve your business processes from the customer’s perspective.