Believe it or not, at one of my recent kaizen events this past month, a plant production manager asked the team, “How many people did you cut?”. Our event focus was quality related in improving the process to make the product right the first time and we did not cut any associates from the process. If this was not bad enough, this production manager repeated the question two more times!
What kind of message do you think he was sending the team? How many company associates do you think want to volunteer for the next kaizen event? With his question, what do you think kaizen means to him?
Let’s make this crystal clear: Kaizen is not about cutting people!
As lean thinkers, we should focus on our growth strategy. With a growth strategy, we reassign people from kaizen to perform other tasks that add value to our customer. A better question to ask is “What value added tasks can we accomplish with labor available from kaizen?”