So, you have been asked to lead an enterprise wide transformation. How many kaizen events should you plan on conducting in order to achieve sustained improvement?
In his book, Leading the Lean Enterprise Transformation 2nd Edition, George Koenigsaecker suggests that a good guideline is to conduct approximately n/10 events, where n is the number of people at that enterprise. If your organization consists of 500 people, approximately 50 events should be scheduled, where it is assumed that 6 to 8 people will participate in each event. Koenigsaecker goes on to suggest, that with such an investment, you should expect to see double digit improvement in True North metrics of quality, lead time, cost, and human development.
In addition to the n/10 rule, George also proposes the 5x rule. That is, you should plan on studying each value stream and each operation at least 5 times in order to become lean. My experience agrees with this, one and done kaizens are great fun and often have significant benefits, but are not sufficient if you want to achieve operational excellence.
Additionally, George also recommends a 3% guideline. 3% of the total headcount should be devoted full time to the lean transformation. These resources, often known as the kaizen promotion office, will help prepare, facilitate, and follow-up on events. With experience and mentorship, they become transformation leadership candidates.
So, if you are planning or leading a lean transformation, consider n/10, 5x, and 3%. These are good guidelines for success.