Thursday, April 15, 2010

Times, They Are A Changin'

We see it again and again. Companies with passionate workers learn how to capitalize on their strengths, and accomplish tremendous achievements as a result. Oftentimes, they are surprised by how fast they notice a change.

The training I’m talking about is called a Kaizen Blitz. I realize that some industries don’t like the “K” word. But really, Kaizen means “quick change process”. And that’s exactly what it is. Teams are small (about 5 to 8 people) made up of a few supervisors and front line employees. Therein lays one of the secrets to success: Kaizens aren’t some generic formula. They are as unique as the people that are a part of the team.

Kaizen Blitzes are intense, and focus on a company’s most pressing issues. Not just the physical symptoms, but the process (root cause) of the problem. They allow the people who are most affected by the dilemma to create the solution.

Wagner Equipment is a great example of this phenomenon. Mike Fields, General Manager of Parts and Services at Wagner Equipment was excited about taking the first steps towards an authentic safety culture. He was passionate about molding a culture of safety accountability among all company members, and he got what he wanted.

Mike sponsored a Kaizen event and the weeklong training session (designed to solve problems with Near Miss reporting, Job Safety Assessment, Safety Meetings and Inspections) was a great success.

They reaped the results when they had their first recordable free month in history - just three months after roll-out. Additionally, there was a reduction in recordables from 28 in 2008 to ONE in 2009 and over 350 reported near misses – or about 3 per employee – in the first 6 months. 95 % were closed within 3 days. Nearly 3,500 pre-job checks were voluntarily submitted by motivated employees.

If you want to read more details about the process, and how you can utilize the Kaizen Blitz process in your company, read the rest of Wagner's story.

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