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The Kaizen Event Planner: Achieving Rapid Improvement in Office, Service, and Technical Environments – Karen Martin, Mike Osterling

24th April 2020
the kaizen event planner book cover


The Kaizen Event Planner is a book about continuous improvement in the work environment using Kaizen and Lean principles. This book provides a practical guide for planning and executing Kaizen Events in non-manufacturing settings and conducting follow-up to sustain the changes. I have some fundamental knowledge about Kaizen and Lean, but I would like to improve my knowledge on the process.


Karen Martin is a consultant specialising in applying Lean principles and tools in office, service, and technical environments. The author is the president of TKMG. She started her career as a scientist and became the Director of Quality Improvement for a large healthcare organisation. Later, she also served as the Director of the Institute for Quality and Productivity at San Diego State University. She is also an instructor for the University of California, San Diego’s Lean Enterprise program and an Industry Advisor for the University of San Diego’s Industrial and Systems Engineering program. She has also authored a few books on the these principles.

Mike Osterling is the president of Osterling Consulting. He specialises in deploying Lean Management systems in manufacturing and non-manufacturing environments. He was a Lean Manufacturing Manager in Square D Company before consulting. The author is the founder of the Lean Enterprise Certification Program at San Diego State University and has taught there since 1999. He is the co-author of two books with Karen Martin.


The Kaizen Event Planner has a total of 19 chapters, plus a preface, an introduction and 2 appendices. Besides that, it also has an accompanied CD which contains a set of Excel-based tools and templates.

The book is organized into 4 parts. Part I is Lean and Kaizen: An Overview. This is an introduction to Toyota Production System, the Lean philosophy, and the difference between the practice of ongoing, daily kaizen and Kaizen Events. This part contains 2 chapters.

Part II is Kaizen Event Planning and is about the planning process of Kaizen Event. There are 7 chapters in this part.

Part III is Kaizen Event Execution and addresses event execution and introduces Metrics-Based Process Mapping (MBPM). It consists of 8 chapters.

Part IV is Beyond the Kaizen Event: Sustaining and Expanding. This part talks about the post-event follow-up activities and techniques to assure sustainability. There are 2 chapters in this part.

Appendix A is Lean Terminology and Appendix B is Additional Resources.


The Kaizen Event Planner is a manual of executing a Kaizen Event. Every step and role is spelled out clearly and all tools required for Kaizen Event are also explained in the book.

First, let’s see some definitions.

Lean is the philosophy of aggressive, continuous improvement executed through defining value from the customer’s perspective; mapping the value streams; create flow; working at the pull of the customer; and pursuit of perfection. In short, it is expending the minimum effort and resources to achieve optimal outcomes.

Kaizen is a continuous-improvement philosophy and business management approach for making small, incremental progress on a daily basis. It aims to create more value and less waste, resulting in increased speed, lower costs, and improved quality. Kaizen represents a way of thinking and behaving.

Kaizen Event is a structured, team-based, problem-solving activity of short duration to improve processes throughout an organization. It aims to shift the culture progressively. In the activity, the team learns to identify waste and apply Lean tools to eliminate it. It provides the skilled facilitation and executable action plans to generate results that align with leadership’s vision.

Now, let’s look at the 2 problems at the culture of most organizations. According to the authors, the impediments to improvement in an organization are analysis paralysis, and knee-jerk improvements that are not well-planned. Kaizen Event can alleviate these issues.

There are 5 primary aspects of organizational performance. They are quality, cost, delivery, safety, and morale. Kaizen Events should improve the performance in these aspects.

Although a Kaizen Event only runs for 2 – 5 days, its planning process requires at least 4 – 6 weeks. The team members must fully commit themselves during the event. The members are the people closest to the work being improved (frontline workers). Thus, Kaizen Event is tactical. It is about how to execute the strategy formulated by leadership.

The authors also mention the role of supervisors and managers after a Kaizen Event. They should monitor processes real time and identify the need for further improvements when necessary, so that the improvements can be sustained.

I learned a lot about the Kaizen Event process from this book. The true purpose of Kaizen is to humanize the workplace, eliminate hard work (mental and physical), and teach the workforce how to effectively solve problems as they arise. At its core, it is more about people and human dignity than specific process design. The book is too expensive and I borrowed it from a library. In conclusion, The Kaizen Event Planner is a technical book and can serve as a reference if your organization wants to employ Kaizen.


  1. Lack of appropriate training is a common reason why organizations fail to sustain improvements.
  2. Consistent focus on the process will ensure that old work habits are broken and replaced with new ways of operating.


2 out of 3 stars

Interested in The Kaizen Event Planner?

You may get the book from Kinokuniya Malaysia through the link below*.

Get the book here

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