Collective Kaizen and Standardization: The Development and Testing of a New Lean Simulation

Zofia K. Rybkowski1 & Danny L. Kahler2

1Assistant Professor, Department of Construction Science, 434 Langford A, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA; Phone +1 979-845-4354,
2Principal, Kahler Engineering Group, 1244 Derby Drive, Suite 100, Richardson, TX, USA; Phone +1 512-983-3453,


Simulations can offer a laboratory-like environment for controlled experimentation, as well as immediate and convincing proof of the effectiveness of specified lean principles. At the heart of lean thinking resides the concept of kaizen—or continuous improvement—and standardization, conducted within a culture of respect. Effective use of collective kaizen and standardization capitalizes on the ability of individuals to innovate, to learn from one another, and to improve their effectiveness, thus helping managers improve time, cost, quality, safety and morale by engaging the employees they already have. Despite the role of collective kaizen and standardization as seminal to the very definition of lean thinking, there is no existing published lean construction simulation that focuses exclusively on the concept of collective kaizen and standardization. This paper reports on the development and testing of a lean simulation that focuses on collective kaizen and standardization. The simulation was developed by students as the final project for a US-based university lean construction course consisting of upper-level undergraduate and graduate-level construction science students. The simulation was inspired by primary source writings of early twentieth century American psychologist and industrial engineer Lilliane Gilbreth and efficiency engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor, and introduces simulation participants to the critical concepts of collective kaizen and standardization. The simulation has been tested during three semesters of courses dedicated to lean construction at the originating university, at two additional US universities, and at two international-level lean construction and quality control conferences. Modifications have been made based on preliminary feedback.


Lean simulation, kaizen, continuous improvement, standardization



Rybkowski, Z.K. & Kahler, D.L. 2014, 'Collective Kaizen and Standardization: The Development and Testing of a New Lean Simulation' In:, Kalsaas, B.T., Koskela, L. & Saurin, T.A., 22nd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Oslo, Norway, 25-27 Jun 2014. pp 1257-1268

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