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How to Use Kaizen to Achieve Proactive Operations

, | August 6, 2020 | By

The same issue keeps happening.

Day 1: “Where’s the resolution for this incident?”

Day 2: “Where’s the resolution for this incident?”

Day 247: “Where’s the resolution for this incident?”

You’ve had the same issue pop up for the last 247 days – so far.

And, did you even notice before we just brought it up?

If you did, what do you think cause you to miss it?

Could it have been that it’s such a small concern you probably didn’t think to consider its long-term impact on your operation?

If you didn’t catch it – that’s fine.

But, this small problem might be causing (or amplifying) a big problem in your operation.

Day 248.

Oh, we’re not done yet.

Your problem won’t fix itself.

Day 248: “Where’s the…”

You stop mid-sentence.

You just realized – for the first time – you’ve been asking this question to Kim, your operations manager.

You’re not sure how long either (248 days), but you know it has been a while.

And, long enough that Kim’s response is now a habit.

“I’ve got it written on my notes. Here you go,” she replies as she hands you her notebook without looking.

You assert, “we’ve got to stop this.”

So, what is your next step? Do you know how to improve this part of your process?

Keep reading; we’re going to share how using the Kaizen methodology to remove ‘waste’ like this from your operation.

It’ll support your efforts to achieve Proactive Operations and maximize your performance every day.


Kaizen: Continuous Improvement

Kai and Zen combine to form Kaizen, which we’ve heard various meanings for:

  • Good change
  • Change for better
  • Continuous improvement

Principally, this methodology is used for continuous improvement of processes within businesses.

Tons of resources exist that explain the intricacies of Kaizen.

Many professionals are trained and certified in this practice. We’re not getting that in-depth today.

We highly recommend that you check them out after finishing this article.

But, we’re going to start small and focus on a critical aspect of Kaizen to help your pursuit of perfection – and you can begin using today.

How’s that sound?

Today’s goal is to help you act using the cycle of Kaizen activity.

  1. Plan
  2. Do
  3. Check
  4. Act

There are many names for this cycle – and several versions.

This cycle of activity helps you attack small problems in your processes that create waste.

  • Excess processing of information (e.g., asking for an incident resolution rather than it already being populated in a digital incident report.)
  • Waiting on antiquated, sclerotic technology
  • Unnecessary motion to perform critical activities
  • Non-utilized staff

Now, use it to achieve Proactive Operations.

colleagues collaborating near transparent wall with stickers pondering on strategy
( Continuous Improvement of Processes )

Kaizen Augments Proactive Operations

Are you new to Proactive Operations?

If so, you’re probably wondering:

“What is Proactive Operations?”

We’re glad you asked.

Head over to this popular resource we’ve created that explains everything you need to know about Proactive Operations.

Then, continue reading this article.

We highly recommend reading the above resource before reading on, so everything we explain hereafter makes sense.

Smaller Questions, Leaner Thinking, Produce a Better Strategy, Faster

The Kaizen methodology promotes that small rapid improvements have a more significant long-term effect on your strategy.

This practice is essential to consider, especially in the fast-paced operational environment you work in.


And, you’ll notice improvements faster than fewer, bigger improvements.

The bottom line:

  • Small, rapid improvements help you achieve Proactive Operations and maximize performance fast

Try taking this approach with your Strategy.

Test it!

Look at your organization’s strategy using the ACDA Principle™.

  • Awareness
  • Communication
  • Documentation
  • Analysis

Then, ask small questions, quickly execute the Kaizen cycle of activity over and over, and let’s see the results.

Now, you’re probably wondering:

“OK, so what are the small questions we need to ask to attack the small problems?”

Great question.

Let’s think through some together. (Disclaimer: small problems are going to be relative to the size of your organization.)

  • “Why do I ask for incident resolutions from Kim?”
  • "How long does it take to respond to a wet spill?"
  • "Why is our operations center listed in this building?"
  • "Should we have Text Communication signage at this location?"
  • "What details do we need to dispatch an incident to need-to-know staff in the shortest amount of time?"

Run through these little questions and see what you can quickly improve.

We’ll be waiting to hear all about your results!

Over to You

Process improvement is a vital responsibility of any professional working to bring their organization to the highest level of performance.

We’ve recognized that by using Kaizen to approach your strategy, you can win at Proactive Operations – fast!

Start your first cycle of Kaizen activity today to remove waste from your operation, maximize performance, and ensure long-term success.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and freshness.

Learn how to employ Proactive Operations using strategy, infrastructure & technology.

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