Project Kaizen

Bringing the power of continuous improvement to the project setting

Day 3: Workstream Project Kaizen

Project Kaizen in Workstreams Increases Throughput

Hal Macomber


To optimize for client value — the promise of the project — rather than for whatever it is that you do requires understanding where there is a limitation in the value stream. We learned that lesson from TOC. All other improvement is only local. While all improvement may be good for acquiring an improving habit, it is only when we improve at the area of the constraint that throughput increases. Just working on the constrained step with those people who perform that step may not lead to improvement in the whole process. To get a performance gain in your work might require… Read on >>

Standardized Work: Toyota’s Powerful Improvement Technique

Norman Bodek


Standardization has been ingrained into most business activities to uniformly produce products and deliver services at the lowest cost, the highest quality, complete safety and to the total satisfaction of our customers. The standard represents the best way of doing things. You examine the way the person with the highest skill does something and that becomes the standard for others to follow. Standardized Work as used at Toyota has a simple but very powerful variation of standardization.


A standard should be a unit of excellence something that should always be strived for. At most companies, the standard represented the best… Read on >>

Project Kaizen: Making the Workstream Flow

Joe Ely


Our week-long study of Project Kaizen gets tough today: How do we regularly improve a workgroup that spans different companies?


The workstream is different than the workgroup. It usually involves people who don’t know each other, work for different companies, have very different allegiances and are united (often) only by the project. Hal Macomber wrote well on the distinctives of a workstream last week if you want to understand the distinctives better.


Examples abound. Most outsourced issues are workstreams. Building maintenance and cleaning. Most construction projects. Many contract technical evaluations. Funded research. Very different from the workgroup… Read on >>

Workstream Kaizen for Project Teams

Jon Miller


The topic for today is Workstream Kaizen. The word “workstream” has been in my vocabulary for less than three weeks. The more I come to understand what a workstream is in a project team context, the less I like it. Why? The very nature of workstreams generate waste and call out for kaizen. First let’s define a workstream.


Our resident expert on project management Hal Macomber gave the Gang of Seven a good description of a workstream using the example of building a house. Even just to make a wall you need someone to provide a drawing, carpenters to frame the… Read on >>

Project Kaizen – The Workstream

Bill Waddell


A lot of people don’t like sports analogies, but Taichi Ohno often used one in particular, and, if its good enough for Ohno, it is certainly good enough for me. Hal Macomber says, “In the project world, specialists often work for different organizations, even different companies. They only loosely recognize themselves as being part of a team, let alone adjacent performers in a value stream. The term workstream recognizes that there are project performers whose work is dependent on others.” Ohno talked about such activities, comparing them to two different kinds of relay races.


In a swimming relay, swimmer number… Read on >>

What is Workstream Kaizen?

Chuck Frey


Today’s kaizen co-blogging topic is workstream kaizen. Compared to a workgroup, where the members of the team work together in close proximity and usually know each other well, a workstream is a group of people who may work for different departments or companies. To illustrate the concept of a workstream, Hal Macomber uses the example of a group of subcontractors, working together to build a wall in a new house. This project is performed in a succession of steps by specialists (carpenter, electrician, plumber, painter, etc.) who may not necessarily know each other, but need to cooperate in order for… Read on >>

Project Kaizen: “Workstream” Kaizen

Mark Graban


One workstream I’ve been a part of is the “bug fixing” process within a software company. There are multiple handoffs from:

  1. Report bug (consultant or user in field)
  2. Lead software engineer or QA team “triages” the bug and assigns it
  3. Team gathers to review bugs and receive assignments
  4. Software engineer works with reporter to understand bug and conditions in which it occurred
  5. Software engineer fixes bug
  6. Software engineer submits fix
  7. Team reviews status of fix
  8. Bug reporters reviews new software to confirm bug has been fixed

As you can see from that general workflow, there are multiple departments and workgroups involved – consultants, QA, and software engineering. Read on >>

Project Kaizen: Wednesday

Kathleen Fasanella


Today’s focus is how to go about making improvements when you’re dependent on other people outside of your company to contribute or help you (often called “workstream kaizen”). This topic will really apply to you if you’re hiring sewing contractors, pattern makers, sales reps etc. How can you get non-employees to help you and act in your best interest?


Now, before I use my prepared example, I need to explain the concept of transaction costs. Coase made the case that one of the reasons why an organization becomes an organization is to lower the cost of transactions. I know that… Read on >>

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