What is a Kaizen event?

Kaizen events, sometimes referred to as “Rapid Improvement Events” or “Kaizen Blitzes,” take place over a short period of time, usually a week or less. A Kaizen event is an action where the end result is to improve an existing process. A Kaizen event is a short-term effort to implement small, company wide improvements. A Kaizen event should include training, analysis, design, and reconfiguring. It is not unusual for a Kaizen event to last anywhere from a few days to a little over a week.

The Kaizen Blitz

An example of a Kaizen event would break all employees up into groups of 5 to 10 people. You then give all Kaizen teams the project of improving a part of some process within the company. Oxford Dictionaries states that Blitz means a “sudden, energetic, and concerted effort, typically on a specific task.” So a Kaizen Blitz is an energetic, concerted effort toward improving a specific task. The terms Kaizen Event and Kaizen Blitz can be used interchangeably.


  • Can be accomplished quickly, which can motivate employees and please management
  • Shows employees how continuous improvement is practiced
  • Increase interaction between departments

Carrying Out an Event

Kaizen events have specific goals that can be achieved in the short term. Good goals are realistic, measurable, important to the organization right now, and can involve many people during the event. For example, a kaizen event might aim to:

  • Eliminate extra inventory from a certain production line
  • Reduce the amount of defects by 25%
  • Cut down on the time employees spend waiting for materials in an area by 50%
  • Shorten lead time for a product by 10%

Note that these goals refer to specific locations and have clear targets. Goals may also involve solving a specific problem that an organization is facing. Once a goal is established, a team is convened to approach solving the problem or improving the process. This team often includes people from many departments who can provide unique perspectives.

Teams can have only a few people or as many as 10 people, depending on the situation. This team spends the allotted amount of time focusing on the situation at hand until the goal has been accomplished. Often, the PDCA cycle is used to test out possible solutions and improve upon current standards.When the team is tasked with solving a problem, they can sometimes use the “5 Whys,” a technique for asking questions to get to the root cause of the problem.

After the kaizen event has been completed, team members follow up with affected individuals and/or departments to make sure new standards are understood. The idea of a kaizen event may seem counterintuitive; kaizen means continuous improvement, so how does a rapid event fit into that framework? After all, it’s not continuous. It takes place during a predetermined amount of time. Kaizen events can take place on a regular basis to reinforce the kaizen mindset. They can also be used in conjunction with something called daily kaizen, the kinds of small improvements that occur on a regular basis. Kaizen bursts, which are activities focused on improving specific locations or processes, can also combine these two methods.


Additional Resources