What is a Kaizen Burst Event?

A Kaizen Burst event, which is also called a Rapid Process Improvement (RPI), is a three to five day event. Unlike a process mapping event, whose focus is on planning a list of improvements, a burst event is all about quick implementation and rapid results in a short period by focusing on achieving dramatic improvements in particular parts of a specified process.

The timeline during the event should allow for adjustments to be made quickly, in case there are no immediate results from the ideas identified. The rapid progress must be made without moving waste to a different area or department. It is not mandatory for all actions that have been slated for an event to be completed during the timeline of the Kaizen Burst, but the general goal is to achieve 80% completion and the remainder done within 30 days after the end of the event.

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A Kaizen Burst may be promoted as a one-off blitz, but it should be part of an organization’s strategy of continuous improvement to achieve significant progress.

Who Takes Part in A Kaizen Burst Event?

The composition of the Kaizen Burst team will vary depending on the specific problem that needs to be addressed and your organizational structure. However, most successful teams will normally include the following:

  • Executive Sponsor: This is a senior leader within the organization. The sponsor will guide the team in securing the resources required for the event and smooth any problems that require high-level decision making to resolve. The executive sponsor does not participate in the event but is available to promote the results and break down any barriers.
  • Team Leader: The overall manager who will benefit from the event’s success and is ultimately responsible for the event’s successful execution. The Team Leader is also responsible for assembling the team, scheduling meetings, and making sure the team’s actions are achievable and fully implemented.
  • Facilitator: The event facilitator does not dictate the outcomes during the event, but is responsible for making sure all the participants are engaged in the event, teaches the participants about improvement techniques, and ensures that the team stays on schedule and achieves the event deliverables.
  • Process Stakeholders: These are the people responsible for the processes on a daily basis and are directly reliant on the process outcomes.
  • Subject Matter Experts (SMEs): SMEs could be individuals within the organization or external experts with pertinent information or skills to contribute to the success of the event. They may be called in to answer questions or can participate in the entire event, depending on their availability.

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What Happens During a Kaizen Burst

Each Kaizen Burst event is unique, but we can examine them in the context of a general, five-step road map. Not all events fit perfectly into these steps, but they offer a useful starting point to get started on your first Rapid Process Improvement effort:

    1. Document the current state of the process
      • Depending on individual goals and roles within the process, team members could have widely differing views of the current state. A gemba (go and see) walk should be performed to allow everyone to observe the actual process.
    2. Identify the opportunities
      • After documenting the current state, along with the problems, wastes,, and opportunities, the team can then come to an agreement on what improvements they choose to implement during the event.
    3. Brainstorm the likely improvements
      • The team should document and prioritize the ideas, then decide which ones to test out in the next day or two. If something doesn’t work, adjustments should be made. At this point, it is vital for the facilitator to ensure that everyone participates and that all ideas are heard.
    4. Implement the necessary process improvements
      • The goal is to complete and validate 80% of the ideas so that the process is operating with significant improvement at the end of the event. If it is not possible to implement improvements within the time frame of the Kaizen Burst event, then the action must be completed within 30 days or it should be dropped from the list.
    5. Refine the improvements
      • Once improvements have been put in place, the project team can revisit the changes and tweak them to produce the final process changes. They may then adopt and document new Standard Work and visual controls into the process.
    6. Institutionalize the changes
      • Institutionalizing process improvements require the rest of the affected employees to be trained on new standard work procedures and for results of the changes to be communicated to the entire organization. A report to leadership at the end of the event is the best way to begin to share the outcomes.


Although most process improvement experts agree that Kaizen Burst Events are a very effective tool for any business, they always include a caveat: If an organization relies solely on Burst events without practicing Kaizen every day, it may find it difficult to sustain long-term improvement. Waste and bad working habits are bound to creep back into the process. That being said, Kaizen Bursts are wonderfully complementary to an organization’s continual incremental improvements and one of the most effective ways to make dramatic improvements to a process.

Please contact us to discuss the scope of your Kaizen burst event so we can help you determine the optimal duration and estimated cost.

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