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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Advice on Creating a Kaizen Event Charter

A reader recently asked me share some suggestions on a Kaizen/Team Charter.  So before we get into that it is important to note that while I like to strive for small incremental improvements daily larger scale events also have a necessary place in continuous improvement.  This is especially true for most in the early years of transitioning to a Lean thinking organization.  Improvement comes in many sizes based on the situation, organization, and know-how.

The Kaizen Charter is a planning tool used to increase the odds of success of an improvement activity.  It sets out the scope of the process that will be addressed in the event, establishes the goals and objectives of the event, identifies any work that must be completed prior to the event, and identifies the team members.

The charter is a contract between the Lean Champion (knowledgeable coach) and the project team created at the outset of the project. Its purpose is:

  • To clarify what is expected of the team
  • To keep the team focused
  • To keep the project and team aligned with organizational priorities
  • To transfer the project from the champion to the team
A charter may look something like this:

Click the photo for a larger view.
Download a copy here.

Here are some key points to consider when drafting the charter:
  • Pick a team leader – the leader will be the driver for the team during the event.
  • Determine event dates.
  • Make problem statement specific.
  • Set preliminary objectives for event.
  • Make the objective measurable.
    • Production rate, cycle time, lead time, set-up time, quality improvement, space utilization, WIP/INV reduction.
    • Calculate Takt Time if possible.
  • Focus on observable symptoms.
  • Describe current situation – background information.
  • Pick Improvement Team members.
    • Team should include those within the process as well as an outsider to challenge status quo thinking.
    • Get commitment from Team member’s supervisors.
  • Set boundary conditions that keep team focused on objective.
  • State resource limitations (Time, Money, People).
  • Determine initial training needs for the team with the Champion.
One last, piece of advice is avoid these common failures:
  • Assigning blame in the problem statement.
  • Setting non-obtainable goals.
  • Making the Charter too wordy.
  • Completing without the Champion.
  • Striving for perfection.
  • Poor team selection.
  • Uncommitted leaders.
A well-defined charter is one of the most important elements to make your Kaizen or Team activity successful. It aligns everyone's thoughts and actions to solving the problems at hand and delivering the expected results. It's open enough to allow for creativity and adaptation, but it also sets basic ground rules by which to act. Without it, even the most concerted effort can easily spiral into confusion and disagreement.

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