Car Building Live – Kaizen, Testing and Good Changes

For the past couple of nights there has been a show on BBC called Car Building Live.  I’m not a car fan but to be guided through the process was fascinating.


They talked a lot about Kaizen.  Kaizen is the practice of continuous improvement, change for the better.  Making improvements is something I’m always looking into, in my work and personal life.  Why compromise and do things one way when we could do it better?

In the show they talked about Kaizen being a team effort.  Employees are encouraged to come up with 2 every month.  As they are the ones doing the work they will be able to come up with ideas for improvement.

My favourite example from the show was the Sticker Picker

Sticker Picker

Each car has 96 stickers.  The sticker picker shaved off 0.3 seconds per sticker.  Thats 28.8 seconds per car @1000 cars a day.   Works out at 8 hours a day which is one whole worker for a whole year.  Crazy.

Giving people time and the opportunity to make improvements has a really positive affect., however small they are.  It saves time and people feel like they actually make a difference.

Kaizen for testers

I thought about how this was quite similar to the dreaded regression testing.   2 weeks of a testers time to go through the core features of a product.  Of course there are many ways to solve this but a quick win is just to spread the load.  Get help testing, so testers don’t have to feel like the bottlenecks.   (I may have referred to this to my team as sharing the pain)

This then leads onto more people offering their Kaizens for testing!

“Lets automate this flow”,   “I could add a unit test for that”, or even “why are we even testing this, users don’t use this functionality?”

Its all good,  its all change

Final Thoughts

There is always room for improvement and you have to make time to do them.   There are a number of areas I know my testing can improve so I will share my Kaizens as I go.   My current Kaizen is about making testing reports more valuable.   I don’t believe that counting scripts of pass/fail and counting bugs gives a good indication on the quality of the product.   But thats another blog post….

Oh and I now really really want a mini!

To read more about Kaizens and Katas have a read of these

The Toyota Way

The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Book



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