Action Forum

Project Detail

Kaizen is a Japanese word that loosely translates into “continuous incremental improvement” and generally is used to describe cross-functional process improvement teams that are convened to address a specific, narrow issue or opportunity in a focused (2-4 day) session. This approach is also known as “workout” or “Action Forum” in various companies.

Action Forum/Kaizen engages key stakeholders in solving a problem quickly:

  • Convenes a cross-functional team to work together for a focused/short period of time
  • Gains consensus on the problem and its root causes before hearing solution ideas
  • Aligns the team behind a course of action and commits to a timeline
  • Gets results quickly, but may not completely solve complex problems

Action Forum/Kaizen fits best when:

  • Potential problem, waste, or opportunity exists
  • Root cause(s) are suspected but potentially not agreed upon
  • Low-risk solutions may be available, but different stakeholders may have different positions
  • All stakeholders can get together to decide on how to pilot and/or implement solutions


Pre-work: gather data on the process and/or opportunity, and identify a cross-functional team

Define: assemble the stakeholders; understand the opportunity, process, and customer needs

Investigate: agree upon the root cause(s) of the problem

Streamline: find and plan to pilot low-risk solutions to the problem

Control: implement changes and monitor the process to ensure the solutions are effective