The Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) is a standard approach to team-based problem solving. The RIE helps teams focus on process problems that are beyond the day-to-day work. The Rapid Improvement Event is a fundamental and popular Operational Excellence technique.
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Rapid Improvement Event Approach
RIEs are highly facilitated sessions that bring a team together, usually 4 to 7 individuals who work within the process along with representatives from upstream (suppliers) and downstream (customers). Roughly the sequence of events is:
- Describe the current state
- Identify gaps and problems (wastes)
- Brainstorm solutions
- Define the future state
- Implement as much as possible and develop a plan for remaining open items.
The work utilizes an array of Lean and OpEx tools and techniques. The RIE is chartered, with a tightly defined scope and usually lasts between 3 and 5 days and includes real-time training, an executive champion and a final report-out to interested and affected parties.
Rapid Improvement Event Scope
The RIE can be applied to any process problem – manufacturing, business process or services. It is important to limit the scope to something that a small team can tackle in a week or less of highly focused process improvement work. Lean and process improvement techniques such as Value Stream and Process Mapping, and Hand-Off Charts and RACI Diagrams are often applied during the Rapid Improvement Event.
Other names for the Rapid Improvement Event: Kaizen Event, Accelerated Change Process (ACP), Work Out, Change Acceleration Process (CAP), Process Improvement Process (PIP) and the list goes on.
With all the attributes of a Kaizen Event, the term “Rapid Improvement Event” was originated by Kaufman Global (then Kaufman Consulting Group) in the 1990s for two reasons:
- To expand the application of focused problem solving events beyond manufacturing and into business process and service environments. At that time, Kaizen Events were predominantly seen as techniques for improving manufacturing and production work cells.
- To establish a naming convention that more accurately describes the expected outcomes of the technique.