A framework for designing, managing, and improving Kaizen event programs

Eileen M. van Aken, Jennifer A. Farris, Wiljeana J. Glover, Geert Letens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to introduce a framework for the design and management of a Kaizen event program where short-term improvement projects (Kaizen events) are systematically used to introduce rapid change in targeted work areas, often relying on lean work system principles. Design/methodology/approach: To develop the framework and the assessment approach, a comprehensive literature review and a field study of Kaizen event programs in three organizations were conducted. To illustrate the potential usefulness of the framework and the assessment approach, this paper presents a case study of how the framework was applied to design and improve a Kaizen event program in the Belgian Armed Forces. Findings: Use of the framework as a design and assessment tool appeared to make the Kaizen event program more effective in the case study organization. Specific areas of improvement identified included: clearly defining event goals, scheduling extended follow-up activities, defining measures to track results, assigning roles for Kaizen event evaluation activities, and sharing lessons learned in areas of the organization outside the work processes targeted by Kaizen events. Originality/value: With the increased use of lean work system practices in recent years, many organizations are using Kaizen events to rapidly introduce change and to create a culture of continual improvement (or kaizen). However, organizations lack systematic, research-based guidance on how to best design and implement Kaizen event improvement programs and how to best assess results. The proposed framework attempts to address these gaps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-667
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Productivity and Performance Management
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2010


  • Continuous improvement
  • Lean production
  • Organizational analysis


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