When I talk to businesses about Kaizen during on time delivery improvement projects I often get a blank stare.

Most people recognise the term Kaizen as being a Japanese word that translates into English as ‘continuous improvement’. Whilst this is generally acceptable, I believe the power of this approach is in taking the fear out of making change a reality.

To improve the on time delivery performance of a business something usually needs to change. If fear of making a change is present in the business then using the Kaizen approach can therefore help a business to improve it’s on time delivery performance.


Small Kaizen steps can help your delivery performance

Let me give you a real life example to put this into context.

A manufacturing business was struggling with their current order books; their lead times were too long and their delivery performance was abysmal. The business was under pressure to take on more work, but everyone in the business felt under pressure as they were. Higher outputs were not even being considered by the Operations team.

However, they came up with a plan to try and improve this situation. It was a big plan. It never got started.

When I got involved with this business I took their plan and broke it down into sixteen small plans.

I got the managers who were responsible for delivering this plan and asked which were the easiest of the smaller plans, that we could complete in a day or two.

They chose their first steps and progress started.


Here’s the magic

These managers gained confidence. They were enthused by their results and were now ready to tackle the rest of the activities.

We sequenced the remaining smaller projects to maximise their results and they got going. Occasionally they would break one of the projects down further. This helped them to manage their day jobs and prevent the fear from creeping back in.

Their confidence grew with their wins, and that is the true magic of Kaizen.

Their results transformed too. Their on time delivery performance soared after only a few months and their lead time dropped by over 80% to make them one of the fastest suppliers in their sector.


What about your plan?

If you are contemplating the results of your own on time delivery improvement plan, and progress is not where you want it to be try using the Kaizen approach.

If may look like a simple strategy and you’re right. But, sometimes it is these simple ideas that can be the most potent.


Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their on time delivery performance, ERP system performance and deploy Kaizen / Lean production methods. Giles is also the author of 'What Does Good Look Like?'.