What once took an entire day has been reworked, rejigged, and revamped to take only half that time.

Kaizen means continuous improvement, and Kaizen Basics is a course that introduces Saskatoon Health Region employees and physicians to the Lean-based Saskatchewan Health-Care Management System. Previously, it took an entire working day – from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. – to complete the course.

Now, thanks to input and ideas from course participants, a new, shorter and better Kaizen Basics course is being offered.  The material lasts just 4.5 hours, and the course exercises are more relevant to the health care sector and the work we do every day.

“All of the changes to the course were suggested by employee feedback,” noted Anton Canitz, Kaizen specialist.

A woman faces a board covered with post-it notes.

A Saskatoon Health Region employee completes the waste exercise from Kaizen Basics.

One of the main drivers for shortening the course was cutting back on overtime for participants travelling in for the sessions from rural areas. With the shorter course, those participants would be able to work travel time to the course into their regular work day.

It was difficult to pare the course down, but they were able to do it.

There was also a definite push to make the course less focused on Kaizen’s manufacturing roots, and make it more relevant to health care. The introduction still includes a video from Toyota, the creators of Kaizen, but most non-Saskatchewan-based examples have been removed from the course. Now that Lean has been implemented for a few years in the province, there are examples from close to home that can be used. For example, a mistake-proofing case study from the Cypress Health Region is now included in the revamped course, and includes actual outcomes from projects.

“People can expect a better progression through the presentation,” Canitz said. “Attendees from our first week of the abbreviated course have enjoyed the pacing, and felt less overwhelmed by the information.”

Feedback from the participants of the shorter course supports that statement – “The length and flow was perfect,” one person stated. Another said, “I think Kaizen Basics offers a lot of info. The idea of ongoing changes makes a lot of sense. I found it interesting.”

While the new, shortened course has already been offered to current employees, options are being explored for the Kaizen Basics course offered during Welcome On-board Week (WOW) for new employees.