Whilst the internet whipped itself up into a frenzy about discounted televisions, here at Ticketmaster International we were celebrating savings of a different nature. For a few years, we have been using Kaizen techniques to improve efficiency and quality. “Kaizen”, a term borrowed from lean manufacturing, can be translated from Japanese to mean “good change”: it is a continuous improvement technique which recognises that the individual doing the job is the expert on that job and encourages individuals to make small, incremental changes that are within their power to implement.
Kaizen has been embedded in our business in different ways. For our developers who already use agile techniques, including scrum and Kanban, Kaizen was already at the heart of their operation. Regular retrospective sessions are used to identify, shape and get commitment to incremental changes to development and team behaviour. But whilst Kaizen is familiar to agile developers, it was an alien term to people elsewhere in the business. We initiated a programme to encourage wider adoption of Kaizen and empowered individuals to improve the processes they worked on a daily basis. A reward scheme was initiated and a shortlist of Kaizen implementations is reviewed regularly by the Exec team and celebrated through a number of internal communication channels.
Recently we have seen teams such as Ticketmaster Denmark and our contact centre team in the UK taking the Kaizen programme and making it their own. The contact centre team have started an initiative focussing on incremental changes that improve the customer journey. In Denmark, a Kaizen working group has been formed, not only to encourage Kaizen in their business, but to look at the Kaizen improvements that have been made elsewhere and see how they can be adapted and reused.
Black Friday is a US shopping tradition that is being exported through major online retailers such as Amazon. So with all hype about savings all around us, I asked people from our international business to share their Kaizen time savings and improvements. Here are some of their stories:
- “We simplified the process for customer services engaging with event promoters. By cutting out intermediary steps they calculate they have saved 6 hours per month.”
- “Our team have been doing some work to reduce the solution size, which has had a massive impact on [software] build times. So far we have reduced the build time of the solution from around 7 minutes to 2.8 minutes which is a saving of nearly 5 hours per day across the team.”
- “By standardising print codes in Ireland we reduced duplication and conflict, saving 62 hours per month”
- “One of my colleagues wrote me a script to automate the collection of KPI data. Hugely helpful and saves me at least 1 day each month.”
- “We improved the guidance for visitors to the Copenhagen Office which led to a £255 reduction in metro fines and delays in the first 9 months.”
It is great to see Kaizen continuous improvement becoming more mainstream in our business and the benefits of small, incremental change being celebrated by such a diverse group. We will continue to evangelise Kaizen and provide coaching to teams who are interested in adopting it as well as other lean techniques and look forward to sharing more success stories with you on Black Friday next year!