How to master Kaizen in 3 simple stages

Posted by Kiron Zaal - Business Improvement & Program Management Manager, CAO on 03-Jul-2019 09:22:31
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A simple recipe for identifying Kaizen and innovation opportunities in operational processes.

How can brown paper, post-it notes and a few coloured pens improve your supply chain management, identify a Kaizen opportunity and highlight areas for potential innovation?  With just a few simple materials, you can create a Makigami.  

A powerful tool that provides:

  1. Insight in the end-to-end process
  2. Insight in the baseline performance of the process
  3. 1 truth



1. The Makigami Recipe


  • 1 x piece of brown paper
  • 3 x blocks of post-it notes in different colours
  • 4 x felt-tip pens: black, green, amber and red
  • You and your team!


  • Identify your suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs and customers (SIPOC). Then write each one individually on post-it notes.  Download our handy guide for our top tips on SIPOC here.
  • On your brown paper, stick all the post-it notes of your suppliers and customers down the left-hand side in sequential order in accordance to your chosen process.
  • Next, break down your process into simple steps and write each step on a post-it note. Then, on your brown paper, place the post-it notes in sequential order horizontally and in line vertically with the supplier or customer that actions the step.
  • If there’s an input that’s required for the step, or if there is an output that is created from the step, include these at the bottom of your brown paper.


  • One Makigami.

The Makigami methodology is part of the Yusen Logistics unique Kaizen 2.0 initiative.  It builds upon our successes with Gemba and Kaizen – concepts that we don’t perform, we live every day as part of our corporate culture.  But how can this help with Kaizen, improve your supply chain management and identify innovation opportunities?  By identifying the Non-Value Add Activities - aka, the waste!

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2. Identify Non-Value Add Activities

On the Makigami, mark every process with either green for Customer Value Add Activities; amber for Business Value Add Activities; or red for Non-Value Add Activities.

Here’s our quick reference guide to colour coding your process steps:

 Customer Value Add Activities: Green!

  • Is the step what your customer wants? Do your customers want to pay for it?  Would removing the step cause your customers to look elsewhere?
  • Is the step required to transform materials into products, or information into services?
  • Does the step support the process being completed right the first time?
  • If yes, mark the step green!

Business Value Add Activities: Amber!

  • Is the step currently required for the process? Without it, would this affect the legislation, audit and risk/safety requirements?
  • Does the step consume resources, without directly contributing to your product or service?
  • Is yes, mark the step amber!

Non-Value Add Activities: Red!

  • Could the step be eliminated without deterioration in the functionality of your product or service?
  • Is there duplication of a step or an additional step that doesn’t lead to anything?
  • If yes, mark the step red!

Any Business Value Add Activity or Customer Value Add Activity could be an innovation opportunity, likely to require a large resource but also bring a significant benefit to your operation and supply chain management.  Innovations within a Business Value Add Activity would focus on efficiency; whereas innovations within a Customer Value Add Activity would focus on increasing customer delight through improved customer satisfaction and user experience.

Any Non-Value Add Activity is a potential Kaizen opportunity.


 3. Transform Kaizen Opportunities into Kaizen Successes

  • Follow Kaizen best practices. Read our 7 top tips for achieving success with Kaizen for logistics.  It’s useful guidance for all operations and businesses – in supply chain management and beyond!
  • Apply Kaizen to your operation. With small improvements leading to incremental innovation over time, the positive impact of Kaizen on supply chain management can be vast.  We discuss how the plan-do-check-act cycle can make sure you get the very best out of your improvements.

Want to find out more about Yusen Logistics?  Email us today at  

Topics: Kaizen

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