3 Steps for Optimizing Returns on a Kaizen Consultant

10 Jul, 2024 | By leslie@leanexpansion.ca

How do you create winning experiences for customers? As a kaizen consultant, I help clients master consumer-focused methods and mindset to build and maintain growth for better market share.

As a kaizen consultant, I work with clients to expand retail channels, enhance consumer loyalty, build a skilled and stable workforce, achieve operational gains, and build sustainable practices that can be replicated. How does it work?

When I was young and getting started, I had yet to understand the extensive theory behind Operational Excellence. I struggled a lot with using theory to achieve real change. I’m forever grateful to my bosses, who secured some of the best-known names in kaizen and performance improvement at the time to act as my teachers and mentors.

Of course, this investment came with a catch. For every dollar spent on consultants and mentorship, my benefactors and bosses expected a tenfold return—or the dollars stopped. In truth, this is a challenge all consultants face.

Back then, Toyota and the Toyota Production System (TPS) were the gold standard model for continuous improvement, winning productivity awards year over year. Stephen Spear famously broke down the success of the Toyota Production System into four rules—the most important being improving using scientific methodology under the guidance of a teacher.

Some organizations bypass this rule, which almost always results in frustration and failure. Internal resources spin, struggling to maneuver through change and applying sound scientific methodology in what should be (but rarely is) an isolated laboratory setting.

Organizations that choose to recruit or staff an internal office typically experience marginally better success, but these teams often lack the depth and background of a highly trained kaizen consultant. Furthermore, they rarely embrace the role of teacher-leaders; instead, they push a policy of change for their overworked peers.

For organizations keen to reach their full potential, address core challenges, and achieve continuous improvement year after year, working with a consultant experienced in both the theory and application of improvement methodology is a must. The key to optimizing returns on a kaizen investment is to follow three steps, which have predictably yielded consistent results in my experience as a consultant.

Steps to Optimize Returns on Kaizen Consulting

  • Have a meaningful, ambitious, and hard target. Whether it’s top-line growth, better customer experience, or cost reduction, set a goal and be clear about it with your consultant and team.
  • Select a team of changemakers to work with the consultant. This is usually a slice of the organization, right from the C-suite and middle management through to customer-facing team members. Your consultant will act as a guide, balancing customer experience, digital transformation, and sustainable practices to achieve longstanding change and replicable outcomes.
  • Be interested and involved in the work. Expect regular updates from the consultant and team members. Make sure progress is visible. This doesn’t have to take much time, but it requires frequent, quick, intentional check-ins.

A kaizen consultant can help build a savvy workforce and implement technical improvements like artificial intelligence (AI) to make cost-effective, data-backed decisions faster and easier, fundamentally reshaping how work is done and developing new, intelligent approaches and solutions to old problems.

You’ll be surprised. I was, too. Diligently working through processes to implement changes that make sense really does make a difference and can be tracked across many metrics—another facet of an experienced consultant that organizations always appreciate. I helped my organization at the time realize savings and returns that well exceeded their investment in me.

Interested in learning how you can earn 10 times your investment or more  by working with an experienced kaizen consultant? I invite you to connect with me to learn more about the process and how it works.