Success Stories

Kaizen Success as a Community

Kaizen Event Leaders Program

The Program provided training and Kaizen application for individuals from 10 health departments, through a competitive process, for intensive Kaizen education, onsite coaching about application of the Kaizen methodology, and participation in a learning community.

kaiz-ss-1Kaizen simply means “change for the better”.  A Kaizen event is a team-based approach to problem solving that flows through all phases of the improvement cycle effectively and rapidly. Before the event, a Kaizen-appropriate problem is identified along with goals in areas such as customer satisfaction, cycle time and labor reduction, and error elimination. The team is then mobilized and a Kaizen event begins. A typical event uses a systematic process to identify waste in the targeted work process, to enable the team to understand and analyze the root causes, to identify and test solutions, to learn, to install improvements, and to create a system for ongoing improvement. As the event progresses, numerous QI and change management methods and techniques are applied. All of this work is accomplished in a brief period of time, typically 5 days, with full benefits achieved within 1-3 months!


The public health community wanted to expand their improvement and Kaizen process knowledge, skills, and abilities in order to meet the challenge of providing better health outcomes for its customers (effectiveness) while providing them in an environment of fiscal challenges (effectiveness).

Kaizen events are a powerful way to engage people, help develop a culture of improvement in your agency, and achieve results beyond historical norms.  Kaizen leverages the power of the people who perform the work; engages leadership in a meaningful and supportive fashion; focuses the improvement so it aligns with the organization’s needs and can be done rapidly; uses learning from the work site to identify practical solutions; applies numerous, detailed improvement methods during the event to empower the individual and effectively solve problems; and implements the solutions quickly and sets the stage for further improvements.

Approach / Methods

  1. Education using an application-intensive, “Tell, Show, Do, Recycle” approach to solidify the learnings
  • Trained Kaizen event leaders in a) foundational skills used during the Kaizen methodology and b) the Kaizen process.
  1. Application
  • Kaizen event leaders co-led the event (one at each site) to achieve targets and enable the event leaders to practice the skills learned in training.
  • An onsite Continual Impact LLC coach co-led and provided feedback to solidify Kaizen process and change management learnings.
  • Event teams completed all phases of the improvement cycle and then immediately followed up by rolling out the new process and installing an ongoing improvement system for monitoring progress and creating even more improvements.
  • Provided individual application experience and coaching in the application of selected skills prior, during, and following the Kaizen events
  1. Program Coaching
  • Provided distance coaching and program support to the community via. regular telecoms
  • Reviewed progress, extracted learning and identified next steps



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Kaizen Event Leader ”This training and kaizen preparations have put me out of my comfort zone and is now helping me gain confidence.

The growth and transformation of many QI Leaders is outstanding.  Many QI Leaders began their kaizen events quite nervous and concerned with the magnitude and speed required to lead the teams through the varying QI methods and techniques.  For some, their team member change management was significant.  By the end of each kaizen event they have walked about with an improved and standardized process, rapid results, team members with a new/renewed passion for QI, a wealth of learnings, and additional kaizen appropriate improvements.


Kaizen Event Teams Members

Team members have engaged in the kaizen events as expected.  Across the health departments, team members came with a desire to learn new QI methods, see the QI leader learn their event facilitation skills, and improve their job and the health department.  Many were surprised to learn that the week included the ‘Doing’ (creating materials, job aids, training material, and beginning rollout).  Once this was realized, the engagement grew.

This table provides the overall INCREASE in knowledge and skills growth results from the end of event surveys.  Many rated their knowledge increase from a 2 to a 7 on the 1-9 scale.

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The power of kaizen to increase the culture of quality while achieving results at the same time is most telling in these end of event survey questions. This table represents a high degree of benefit gained (7 out of a 1-9 scale) to both them personally and the health department.




The program was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and managed by National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI); training and coaching were provided by Continual Impact LLC.