Project Kaizen

Bringing the power of continuous improvement to the project setting

Day 1: The Case for Project Kaizen

Adopt Project Kaizen to Tap Ingenuity

Hal Macomber


We know the least about a project at the beginning, the usual time that a team plans their project. Unfortunately, too many teams don’t revisit their project plan as they encounter the future that unfolds. Not only do they find themselves struggling to conform to a plan that doesn’t match their experienced reality, but they fail to incorporate what learning occurs along the way.


Project kaizen is an opportunity to deliberately incorporate learning, innovating, and improving performance into the everyday workings of the project.


Project kaizen cannot be an add-on or afterthought to the way the project is… Read on >>

Running Effective Meetings

Norman Bodek


In the fall of 1982, I went to Japan to meet with both Dr. Ryuji Fukuda and Dr. Shigeo Shingo. I had just started to promote Dr. Shingo’s great “masterpiece” ‘The Study of the Toyota Production System’ and I was producing my first published book ‘Managerial Engineering’ by Dr. Fukuda.


Dr. Fukuda took me to a Meidensha Electric plant outside of Tokyo. Here working in one vast room was around 60 people, desks piled next to each other, both side to side and front to front. Your only privacy was to bend down behind the books piled on your desk. I immediately noticed a group of… Read on >>

Project Kaizen: Why Improve Projects?

Joe Ely


Marie had a problem. Why was the supplier slow? Why did they miss promised delivery dates? Why were there quality problems with this vendor? How could she get the design improved? How could she evaluate alternate designs? To do this, she had to involve the vendor, sales people, engineers and production staff. She had a project. She could apply project kaizen.
Scotty had a problem. Organizational changes meant a product previously made elsewhere was coming in-house. How did he locate supplies? How did he modify standard work? How did he let end-users know where to order? How did he find… Read on >>

Making the Case for Kaizen for Project Teams

Jon Miller


A few weeks ago I got a call from Hal Macomber inviting me to join a group of bloggers for a co-blogging exercise. The topic, he said, was to be “kaizen in temporary organizations”. My first thought was “kaizen in a temp agency?” As Hal explained further, I understood that by temporary organization he meant project teams.


It sounded interesting, so I accepted. But my next though was “All organizations are temporary”. That’s a deep thought for another day. So what makes project teams special, and why kaizen it? Before I answer that question and attempt at making… Read on >>

The Case for Kaizen on Projects

Bill Waddell


You can see they kept it pretty easy at first so we can get warmed up. Just about all I know about lean manufacturing is the Toyota version, which seems to be getting further and further from how others are defining lean. At Toyota, what gets kaizened is a process. If any process needs kaizening, it would be a project.


Just so everyone understands, a ‘project’ is defined for the purpose of the blog as just about any ad hoc sort of group that comes together for the purpose of accomplishing a one time only, unique goal. The project can… Read on >>

Kaizen and Innovation

Chuck Frey


During this week, the Gang of Seven will be exploring the topic of kaizen – continuous improvement – and how it can be applied to project settings, where teams of people may only be working together for the duration of a project. Today’s topic is “the case for kaizen on projects.” As a first step, I’d like to clarify what the similarities and differences are between kaizen and innovation.


Kaizen is a Japanese system of incremental innovation, where employees are encouraged to make small changes in their work area on an ongoing basis. The cumulative effect of these many small changes over time… Read on >>

The Case for Project Kaizen

Mark Graban


Why wouldn’t the concept of “kaizen”, or continuous improvement, apply to any activity in or organization? While there are many definitions of lean, one definition that’s spread by Toyota people, as well as Norm Bodek, is that lean can be defined as 1) relentless focus on eliminating waste and 2) having respect for people. In any setting, whether it is manufacturing, a business support process (such as accounts payable), health care, or a project team, these general concepts can apply and can drive success.


If you can tolerate waste, don’t need to improve, and don’t want to respect people, then kaizen isn’t for you. Rather than asking “why kaizen”, I’d ask “why NOT…” Read on >>

The Case for Project Kaizen

Kathleen Fasanella


We’ll answer why do kaizens when you are doing a one-of-a-kind project or when the project team members won’t be working together on a regular basis.
I can answer this in two ways. My first example is that I think Project Kaizen could have been Kaizened itself. The reason I say that is because I’m not sure I understand what all of the concepts we’re supposed to be writing about, mean. While there’s no shame in not knowing, I admit to some reluctance in contacting others in the process for clarification because 1) I’m not on their level and 2) I’m not… Read on >>

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