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Kaizen Templates: Kaizen Newspaper

By Jon Miller One of the guidelines to operating an effective suggestion system is to limit the scope of each persons kaizen ideas to the work they themselves do. Sometimes kaizen ideas are generated and developed as teams but the same rule applies. The theory is that the person doing the job knows what the issues are and will be most motivated to solve problems that inconvenience them. But what should we do when we see problems with work in other people's work or work areas? Walk on by as if we don't see them? One of the features of a lean workplace is regular job rotation. The frequency of job rotation depends on how repetitive the task is and also on the need for cross training. In a repetitive manufacturing environment people would rotate jobs every 2 hours or roughly every time there is a scheduled break. For non-repetitive tasks, processes that do not place a heavy strain on people or work with longer cycles to complete, the frequency of rotation may be increased. By rotating people through different jobs their skills are enriched, the workforce becomes more flexible and responsive to changes in customer demand. When both job rotation and a suggestion system exist within the same workplace people have the opportunity to contribute their kaizen ideas to a wider range of work areas and processes. Another way to involve people in giving improvement ideas to areas other than their immediate work area or job scope is to use kaizen newspapers. This kaizen newspaper template should not be used to trap the problem solving information within a spreadsheet electronically. Instead please print or sketch out the kaizen newspapers on a large piece of paper and post them at the gemba. The kaizen newspaper is a visual management tool to engage people, communicate the state of problem solving activity in an area at a glance, and track the status of these actions visually.

The only responsibility of a non-manager or non-team leader is to identify the problem and write it down on the kaizen newspaper, number it, identify the type of problem (safety, category of waste, etc.) and take a stab at a cause or root cause. The kaizen newspaper frees people from bringing the solution along with the problem and in that sense it is very different from the kaizen idea suggestion system. While the person finding the problem may have a solution in mind, we do not expect them to since they may be identifying problems related to someone elses work. It is up to the area leader or supervisor to review the problem with the team and conduct root cause analysis to take action.The kaizen newspaper is a daily management tool and should be read and acted upon each day.


The kaizen newspaper is also used during a kaizen event or other organized improvement activities with cross-functional teams. It can function as a parking lot for problems identified during such events, or even as a task list of things for team members to do during the week. It can also perform the function of an action item list for days after the completion of the formal kaizen event. We have posted articles previously on how to use a kaizen newspaper and also on the reason why it is called a kaizen newspaper so please refer to those for further details.

How to Use a Kaizen Newspaper

By Jon Miller Question: Are there rules for what goes on a kaizen newspaper so it does not become a massive action item list? Answer: A "massive action item list" should be cause for celebration. A full kaizen newspaper is a good thing. The fact that this is a concern might say something about the quality of the action items rather than the quantity. So here are a few rules of thumb on how to use a kaizen newspaper. But first a basic introduction to the wonderful tool that is the kaizen newspaper. It is a great visual management tool for any gemba, and an essential part of kaizen activities or Lean management on a daily basis. The kaizen newspaper is basically a list of improvement actions that contains the following information, at least in the Gemba version: No (number of item) 7W (type of waste, to include energy, space, safety and environmental losses also) Problem & Root cause Solution Who When Status (stage of completion in PDCA cycle)


The inclusion of the Plan, Do, Check, Act in the Status column is critical. The PDCA cycle developed by statistics pioneer Walter Shewhart was taught to the Japanese in the 1950s by quality management guru W. Edwards Deming, becoming part of the essence of kaizen. The inclusion of the PDCA elements in the kaizen newspaper acts as both a reminder to follow each step and most importantly Check and Act rather than just Plan and Plan and Plan or Do without follow up. It is also a great visual to show status of completion. The kaizen newspaper is pretty straightforward, so how to avoid Chris's problem of the "massive action list"? As a general rule, all problems should be identified. The fact that you don't have resources right now to solve the problem is no reason not to make the problem visible and develop a shared understanding and ownership of the issue. That way when you have the resources you can address it quicker. A task or improvement action should NOT go on the Kaizen Newspaper if: - The problem is stated as a personal issue rather than a process issue - You cannot identify what type of waste it is (7W column) - You are writing down a problem that does not pertain to the gemba where the kaizen newspaper is posted - It takes longer to write it down than to actually solve the problem Kaizen newspapers should be posted and managed by zone. If there is no ownership of the kaizen newspaper by the person in that zone, don't bother writing anything on it as it will just become an eyesore. If the improvement list becomes massive, this is a visual reminder that either there are far too many problems in one area and it needs immediate attention, or that adequate problem solving resources are not being provided. Abnormalities in either case, that need to be addressed. It's called a newspaper for a reason. Go to the gemba where it is posted and read it daily. Whittle away at it. Don't meet about it weekly. Don't review it away from the gemba. Genchi genbutsu is the best way to complete kaizen newspaper action items. Make the kaizen newspaper big and don't spend a lot of time making them look pretty. If you don't plan on reading it and doing something with the information there at least once a day, take them down. It's no longer a newspaper, and it's no longer kaizen.

Why a Kaizen Newspaper is Called a Kaizen Newspaper

By Jon Miller The kaizen newspaper is tool used to perform visual management on the process of continuous improvement itself. Many people who have not been introduced to the kaizen newspaper through kaizen events or as part of a program of team-based problem solving have the wrong idea about what it is. The name seems to throw people off.


The kaizen newspaper is not a company newsletter about kaizen. The kaizen newspaper's primary goal is not to share news about continuous improvement activities at your company. That is a newsletter. The kaizen newspaper is not a report. It is a working document that helps you manage the progress of kaizen activity visually. Why is it called a kaizen newspaper? Most likely it was a spur of the moment decision by an interpreter looking for a quick way to translate the Japanese "dare-itsu shimbun" ( ) which is literally "who-when newspaper". It stumped me the first time I heard it from one of my sensei. The word "kaizen" was probably a quick and more elegant substitute for "who-when" by the interpreter to bring this phrase to English speaking ears. The kaizen newspaper is an action list format that Taiichi Ohno is said to have required his students to post on the shop floor in areas where kaizen was being done so that problems could be identified, written down, and assigned "who" and "when" for action. The reason why the kaizen newspaper is called a newspaper is so that management will read it daily to find out what is going on in their businesses. Back in the days when people read newspapers only in the dead-tree format, some people read the paper more than once, the morning paper and the evening paper. The kaizen newspaper should be updated and visited regularly by management. The implication is that the "who-when" action to do kaizen should see daily change, and a lack of progress clearly highlighted as an abnormality. A good newspaper article will contain information detailing where, what, how much, why, who, what, when, and how. The kaizen newspaper also requires this information for the process of effective kaizen, going from an observation of a problem to a proper problem statement, root cause, identifying potential countermeasures, through implementation and checking their effectiveness. A kaizen newspaper should be on paper, for the simple reason of cost, availability, portability and ease of use by anyone who can pick up a pen. No computer skills are required. Kaizen newspapers should be large, with big clear writing to emphasize the visual management aspect. Making effective use of "headlines" or highlighted problem statements, key points and effectiveness of certain countermeasure trials can also increase the usefulness of the kaizen newspapers as tools for managers, resulting in more go to gemba behavior. In short, that is why the kaizen newspaper is called what it is.