Kaizen Kreativity is the fifth book by Dr. Tom DePaoli, and the third one I have reviewed. Like his other books, Kaizen Kreativity combines examples from his diverse professional past with easy to comprehend definitions and background. His lack of pretension is particularly appreciated since he often relates cases about Lean and Six Sigma. For anyone without experience using these methodologies, the terminology can be off-putting at best, and in the worst case scenario may deter people from realizing their benefits altogether.
A Kaizen, literally translated from the Japanese as "improvement" or "change for the best", is a process for carrying out Lean process improvements. As Dr. Tom states in the book, “A Kaizen is an intensive, short-term activity designed to identify and eliminate waste (p. 93). The Kaizen is an outcome of an evaluation of an inefficient process. […] Kaizens are action oriented in nature and typically one- to three-day events. The end goal is aimed at validating, evaluating, improving, and then moving from the current state map (As-Is) of the process steps selected, to implementation of the new and improved future state map (To-Be) at the completion of the event (p. 6).”
Although they are best known in manufacturing, Kaizens offer tremendous benefits for procurement organizations. In fact, if well executed, they may result in something that looks remarkably similar to a procurement transformation. The need for a Kaizen starts with the recognition of a specific cost or process oriented problem. Examples include high quality costs, repetitive efforts, and manual processes. Kaizens are leveraged in situations when the problem is severe, as this motivates the organization and the specific individuals involved to embrace change quickly.
For organizations trying to streamline their procure-to-pay processes, the emphasis on efficiency over bureaucracy will be particularly relevant. In such cases, the future state or To-Be, ensures that the processes and guidelines put in place reduce the need for individual approvals for the majority of transactions. Kaizens also recognize and incorporate the Voice of the Customer (VOC) as one of eleven steps. If you are not a Black or Green Belt (hint: they are the two of the highest levels of certification), no need to worry. Kaizen Kreativity provides enough background and templates to get started, although working with someone who has the appropriate experience never hurts.
Chapter 16 addresses Kaizen Team Skills, and the three brief pages will improve the project management skills of any professional in any discipline. In his introduction, Dr. Tom warns of humorous sections, and whether he intended it or not, the section on traditional objections is like a list of ‘oldies but goodies’. Here are a few of my favorites, feel free to sing along if you know the words…
“We are different from everyone else.”
“You do not understand our process.”
“Our processes are too complex.”
“Our work is not repetitive.”
“Our customers are too demanding.”
Sing it again, Dr. Tom.
If you aren’t yet convinced that Kaizen Kreativity is a worthy read, maybe you are too different from everyone else or I just do not understand your process. If you are ready to take the first step towards improved efficiency and results, Kaizen Kreativity and the rest of Dr. Tom’s books are available on Amazon.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @DrTomDePaoli or learn more at CommonSensePurchasing.com.