Evolve Faster than the Competition with Kaizen

An essential aspect of Lean, Kaizen is about engaging all your employees to systematically make the organization smarter. Every day.

Most organizations utilize only a small percentage of their employees’ creativity and intellect. You can do better.

What parts of your business needs to evolve faster?

  • Business model(s)
  • Knowledge of customers
  • Knowledge of market trends
  • Hiring process
  • Sales process
  • Lead generation
  • Product development speed
  • Service delivery
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Partnerships
  • Employee engagement
  • Employee development
  • Knowledge management
  • IT systems

Identify your organizational learning and improvement needs, then pursue them systematically.

  1. Observe

  2. Organizational learning begins with observation. Everyone is encouraged to proactively look for problems, questions and opportunities as part of their work.

  3. Capture

  4. To ensure that valuable observations are not lost, they are captured and shared. This ensures a steady stream of ideas.

  5. Reflect

  6. On a regular basis, groups of employees and managers meet to discuss observations and decide what to do with them. Some observations will relate to organizational goals, and obstacles that must be overcome to achieve them.  Others will come from simply doing work.

  7. Resolve

  8. Resolving an opportunity means a project will be spawned, utilizing an appropriate problem-solving method.  The Lean Systems Framework supports a variety of methods:

  • A3 (Toyota’s classical method)
  • JDI (“just do it” – for trivial problems)
  • DX (Differential Diagnosis, suitable for complex problems)
  • QDEA (Question-Design-Experiment-Adapt, convert questions into testable hypotheses)
  • World Mapping (used for broad-discovery of facts, trends, etc.)
  • Kaikaku (Organization Design/Redesign)

Ensuring that Kaizen adds value

There will always be more observations and opportunities than capacity for pursuing them. Selecting the the right opportunities requires careful balancing between top-down and bottom-up perspectives,

The top-down perspective refers to organizational goals, or hierarchies of goals, and the obstacles that must be overcome to meet them. For example, if reducing the sales cycle or improving customer satisfaction are well-defined objectives, learning and improvement activities can focus on them.

The bottom-up perspective comes from day-to-day experience in doing work, whether in innovation or operations. Improvement ideas naturally occur to people as part of doing their work, and an effective Organizational Learning system must be able to capture them.

Changing Roles

Lean changes the day-to-day experience of employees and managers alike, and we provide coaching to help with this transition. Managers must set learning and improvement goals for their teams, not merely “doing goals”. Their focus shifts from directing work to facilitating learning and problem-solving.  Individual contributors also become involved with the business and with customer in a broader fashion. They are not only empowered to explore new horizons and make improvements, they are expected to do so.


Kaizen for Leaders

This full-day course provides a detailed overview of how Kaizen works and what leaders must do to facilitate organizational learning.  We cover leadership behaviors, motivation, goal-setting and analytics – how to measure and understand the performance of your Organizational Learning System.

Kaizen for Practitioners (2 days)

In this hands-on course we cover the essential skills needed to organize and perform Kaizen activities.  Participations will work on real-life problems in their own organizations.  We cover all the problem-solving methods in the Lean Systems Framework except for the Kaikaku (Organization Design) method, which is covered in a separate course:

  • A3 (Toyota’s classical method)
  • JDI (“just do it” – for trivial problems that don’t require causal analysis)
  • DX (Differential Diagnosis, suitable for complex problems)
  • QDEA (Question-Design-Experiment-Adapt, converting questions into hypotheses and testing them)
  • World Mapping (used for broad-discovery of facts, trends, etc.)

Organizing Organizational Learning Activities

For Kaizen to work properly, the activities must be embedded in the work that people do, and they must be managed and tracked. Just like with a non-stop fitness program, sustainable results require tracking and feedback. We will help you organize the pipeline of observations, the decisions made about them, problem-solving projects as they progress and the results they generate. This can be done using an existing workflow management system in your organization or we can help you select an off-the-shelf solution.

Enterprise software company wanted to engage employees to improve execution and innovation

Smallworld’s software and services allows energy and telecom companies to track and manage their assets, optimizing asset functioning and financial performance.

Lots of ideas, no system for improvement

Smallworld Systems, a Norwegian enterprise software company, was challenged with increasing customer demand for software customization. Smallworld’s software helped telecom and energy companies manage their assets, but customers had slightly differing needs.  The company’s main challenge: improving customer responsiveness while continuing to ship new product releases.

Smallworld’s on-site consulting work was performed by members of the same engineering team that was working on new product releases. Smallworld struggled with a blend of priorities and business models, and prioritizing product features versus requests for customizations was also challenging.

As is often the case, Smallworld’s own employees already had ideas for what could be done to improve the situation. What the company lacked, however, was a system for identifying, selecting and solving problems.


LSI provided leadership coaching as well as employee and manager education on Lean organization design principles and Kaizen. Smallworld organized regular sessions for Hansei (reflection), and LSI provided advice for how to organize improvement ideas and projects.  The training was initially delivered on-site to all employees and LSI also provided follow-up sessions as webinars.

To facilitate real-time transparency and efficient workflow, LSI helped Smallworld map its value streams and set up Kanban boards for each of them. This provided a baseline for continuous improvement efforts.


  • Successful knowledge transfer of basic Lean practices
  • Real-time transparent operations
  • Faster development
  • Improved customization responsiveness
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Employees become involved with strategy and business model questions

Contact us to schedule an initial conversation.