Kaizen anyone?

4Sloan's picture
Wed, 02/19/2014 - 08:45 -- 4Sloan

Would you like to discuss the uses of Kaizen in public health? We're holding our first Kaizen event this spring and fortunately have an experienced facilitator because we are novices. The aim of our project is to increase food safety program efficiencies (money and time spent) and improve effectiveness (communication and customer service) with non-English speaking and ESL food service operators. The voice of the customer is a key focus of our project.

How has your organization used Kaizen?
Do you have any preparation suggestions for increasing the success of a Kaizen event?
Any suggestions for sustaining momentum after the event?

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Submitted by oliviabc on

Congratulations on your project and good luck with your Kaizen event! I was lucky enough to receive training to host a Kaizen Event through a grant opportunity and will test the skills I've learned next week. I'll have more to add to your question after the actual event but I can tell you that so far the method has created a lot of momentum within our department. A real knowledge of the process and the tools to use during the process has been the best preparation for me. Knowing what they are for and how to use them allows me to be spontaneous during the event and better support wherever the team leads me. I think the very design of the Kaizen method helps to sustain momentum after the event because after such an intense time together, there is real ownership of the process by each team member.

I'll let you know about any lessons learned after next week and good luck to you!


2 users have voted.

Olivia Byron-Cooper, MPH
El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency

Submitted by umehta2005 on

Wow very exciting. I was very fortunate to be able to join a group of heath department leaders through a Kaizen training over the holidays. We were able to use the innovated Kaizen approach to learn to control waste and map out process maps and find solutions and create a new process.

We completed our event in January 2014, and fix our Purchasing process, by eliminating time work by employees in ordering, approvals, and put measures in place to reduce cost per transaction for our purchase process.

Some hints for a great Kaizen event would map out the process, have subject experts at the event, and ensure that you have buy in from upper management.

The event will take 45 hours of facilitator time and staff will be away from their office for the week.

The continual impact board will help you adjust to the new process and help continue to improve the process and maintain it.

We will be doing 8 week checkup in the next few weeks. Good Luck at your Kaizen Event.

2 users have voted.

Udgit Mehta
Administrative Services Director II
Florida Department of Health-Lake
PO Box 1305
Tavares, FL 32778

Submitted by bhagedorn on

4Sloan, how did your event go? Any lessons learned for the group? What tools did you end up using during the event?

1 user has voted.

Submitted by QIangeloni on

I recently became exposed to Kaizen and I think it is great. I'm going to do it myself in the next month or two, so those experts outthere, any suggestions for me? The facilitator of the event I attended gave the participants ALL the time needed for them to explain, vent, justify and describe all the steps in their process, so that way all the challenges and opportunities were on the table. The facilitator guided the group and let them come up with their own solution and process, which now they do own.
I think that will be hard for me to do because I tend to intervene and give my opinions and encouragement..... so any suggetions are welcome. :)

2 users have voted.

Magali Angeloni, DrPH, MBA
Rhode Island Department of Health's Academic Center Director

4Sloan's picture
Submitted by 4Sloan on

I'd love to hear a report out on everyone's Kaizen event and/or how things have gone in the Gemba as plans have been implemented. Our Kaizen event was fabulous and I especially appreciated how once reluctant-to-participate staff became huge enthusiasts of the process. Our AIM Statement was: The project team will increase food safety program efficiencies (money & time spent) and improve effectiveness (communication and voice of the customer) with non-English speaking and ESL food service operators. While a huge list of ideas to implement immediately, at 30 days, 60-90 days, etc. came out of our event, the team identified resources through the FDA's Oral Culture Learner Project that will be provided to food operators based on the language needed and for materials that are directly related to correcting specific food violations that have been identified for the specific establishment. In addition, we will be providing interpreters more frequently during both inspections and enforcement follow-up visits. Our improvement theory is that IF we provide appropriate language material relating to specific code violations by non-English/ESL operators, THEN there will be fewer violations. That same theory goes for providing better translation to assure that communication is clear. 50% of non-English/ESL interviewees identified language as a barrier to compliance with the Food Code. Only 31% identified culture as a barrier. Stay posted as we begin to collect data and submit our project to PHQIX as "In Progress."
Would love to hear from Olivia, Udgit and others interested in this topic!

1 user has voted.

Submitted by ebakota on

Our Kaizen event was, and is continuing to be, a huge success. Our goal was to reduce labor and material costs associated with food inspections by 33% without changing the inspection itself. This means try to reduce time associated with set up/break down, writing reports, scheduling, filing, etc.

Initially there was tremendous skepticism over possible time savings. However, we were able to reduce that admin time by well over 50% after the first month of Kaizen. Since then we've had admin time reduced well below 66%; each month we seem to find more waste we're able to eliminate. This has been a significant tailwind as we've had to 'do more with less.'

We are now hoping to do 2 more kaizen events in the near future.

2 users have voted.

4Sloan's picture
Submitted by 4Sloan on

This message is for ebakota. Is your project posted on PHQIX. If not, do you have a summary you could send to me at ssloan@whatcomcounty.us? I'm very interested in your outcomes and it sounds like a project we could possibly replicate in our food inspection program. THANKS! You can also reach me at (360) 676-6724 #50838. Best for your continued success and I hope to hear from you soon.

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Submitted by Cherstin on

Thanks for asking this question 4Sloan. We have also been interested in holding a Kaizen event and the feedback above from others was very helpful. I am also interested in the project mentioned by ebakota. If you happen to receive that project summary, would you mind forwarding to me? cherstin@deschutes.org.


0 users have voted.

Cherstin Callon
Quality Improvement Specialist
Deschutes County Health Services, Public Health

Submitted by agoon on

I'm so energized by these examples- especially the ones related to environmental health! We want to use a Kaizen event to help us integrate 3 separate clinics (dental, immunization, and reproductive health) with separate staff, software, and locations in our building to 1 centralized check-in/check-out process. We don't plan on cutting any clerical staff through this- we want to free them up to do other things (plus also create the capacity for back-up staffing for vacations, unexpected absences, etc.). We've gotten a scholarship for our QI/Accreditation Coordinator to attend Kaizen training in November, so I can't wait for us to move forward.
I admit I'm sometimes puzzled by remarks about needing buy-in from management or administration. I am the leader of our agency, and the need to continuously improve how we operate (to make it better for clients, staff, and taxpayers) is super obvious to me! Why wouldn't we want to find a better way of doing things?!
Anne Goon, Health Commissioner
Henry County Health Department
Napoleon, OH

0 users have voted.

Anne Goon, MS, RD, LD
Health Commissioner
Marietta/Belpre City Health Department

larena's picture
Submitted by larena on

Hi everyone! I'm the new Communications Lead for PHQIX and it's great to e-meet you all! It's so wonderful to hear about these great experiences with Kaizen! I'd love to encourage those of you who have completed a Kaizen event to submit your event for publication if you haven't already. This is a great way to document what you and your team did and to share your successes with the PHQIX community and your colleagues. 

I also wanted to highlight a few resources that may be of interest to you all. We  recently published two articles in a four-part series describing the Kaizen approach. You can click here to read the first article, and here to read the second article, which includes links to four Kaizen event programs focused on customer relations and improving satisfaction. 

If you're looking for other examples of Kaizen events on PHQIX, you can go to the Search page and enter "Kaizen" as a keyword in the search field. This will pull up all of our published QI Initiatives that mention the word "Kaizen." 

We hope these resources are helpful! Don't hesitate to reach out to me at contact@phqix.org if you have any suggestions for any other resources that would be helpful for us to create and/or share on the site. 

All that being said, nothing can compare with exchanging thoughts and ideas with one another, so please keep the conversation going!! 


0 users have voted.

Laura Arena, MPH
PHQIX Communications Lead
RTI International