Implementing KAIZEN™ for Optimal Efficiency: PGE Energetyka Kolejowa S.A.’s Journey with Kaizen Institute Poland


Implementing KAIZEN™ for Optimal Efficiency: PGE Energetyka Kolejowa S.A.’s Journey with Kaizen Institute


Learn about PGE Energetyka Kolejowa S.A.’s KAIZEN™ journey from Andrzej Krzywoń, Manager of the Step-by-Step Program at PGE Energetyka Kolejowa S.A. His company collaborated with Kaizen Institute to improve their work with railway power supply and maintenance and all devices in the railroad space.

PGE Energetyka Kolejowa S.A.: Vision & Ambition

PGE Energetyka Kolejowa S.A. is a Polish power company, connecting railways with the country’s energy system. They supply energy to individual devices used for rail transportation in five distribution and service areas and five service plants throughout the country.

Distribution & Fuel Division

Supply electricity needs for railway services and self-service fuel stations

Turnover and Green Rail® Division

Deliver renewable energy for railways, businesses, and individual customers

Electric Power Services Division

Maintain traction and provide electric power services

What circumstances led you start using KAIZEN™ at PGE Energetyka Kolejowa S.A.?

We could talk a lot about problems, but actions from the KAIZEN™ methodology largely align with our company’s vision and mission. Our vision encompasses being a company that gets better every day. We want to develop our employees and services, improve the quality of our services, and most importantly, we want to be more efficient. All this is to serve in accordance with our mission, to support the Polish Railway, so that our service is better. For us, this was the best moment to implement this program with other great changes in our company, so it all went hand in hand.

“If you want to improve the company, if you want to improve yourself, there is no other way than to act with the KAIZEN™ methodology.”

What aspects of KAIZEN™ are most important to your organization?

Every moment, every day, you can be better if you want to change. Our company works strongly on being one living organism. The railroad network is not a static element; it changes all the time. The most important thing for us is the client who, when boarding the train, wants to travel a specific route as quickly as possible. How we act and how we perform is crucial. We want the client to reach their destination on time. Therefore, we must perfect our activities to have no influence on the external environment, for example the entire railway system.

This is where the KAIZEN™ methodology came to our aid. With the help of certain tools, we can improve processes all the time, and most importantly, improve ourselves. If we improve our processes to a level that will fulfill the obligations we have towards our customers, our services will be better.

What changes does the whole company implement in everyday conduct?

The most important change, in my opinion, is a slow but continuous change in people’s awareness. It is known that each of us repels what we’re afraid of because no one likes to be surprised. And we like things that are pleasant to us. From 2017 to today, we have had a slow but constant change in people’s consciousness. It is a change in the working environment, by introducing 5S tools, organizing this working space, and using our employees’ work time more effectively. Bearing in mind that we are a nationwide company, it is an element that causes some difficulties, and we need to work on it more. From my most recent experience, because I travel throughout Poland, I can see that it is starting to take shape. We can see an improvement in people’s attitudes, their work environments, and, of course, efficiency. We see areas where we can really say that we have successes.

When did you find out for the first time that the implementation of KAIZEN™ was successful?

There were two moments. Our first success was the implementation time. When we started to implement our solutions with consultants from Kaizen Institute, there was some uncertainty. Several doubters said, “It won’t work for us.” But when we finished the first stage of implementation, in the pilot units, the doubters turned into our best ambassadors. So, it was the first success that showed that we will change, and people who will follow us will move forward.

“Time organization is the most important thing for us. It is known that our work is strictly timed, so we must be very disciplined here.”

The slightly bigger success I will always remember fondly. It happened at the end of implementation. It meant preparing certain materials, changing the workspace, changing people’s mentality, and, because of subsequent audits, passing additional stages as part of the process. We reached our final one when our results allowed us to meet the requirements. It was the first success that ignited more people. These are tiny successes, but they just allow you to slowly move forward and change organizations.

What are the future plans for KAIZEN™ implementation and cooperation with Kaizen Institute?

If we do not take care of the work we have done, we will lose certain actions, then those aspects disappear. So, we want to secure this program. Of course, in accordance with the KAIZEN™ methodology, we are trying to develop this program with activities in specific departments. We want to involve more people in this program so that in time we can say that 100% of organizations operate in this methodology. After certain actions have settled down, we will continue to take steps forward. For me, this is a period of reviewing the whole situation. I travel all over Poland to our different units, so I see where we need to act, and I think new projects and ideas will emerge.

Andrzej Krzywoń, Manager of the Step-by-Step Program at PGE Energetyka Kolejowa S.A.
Andrzej Krzywoń, Manager of the Step-by-Step Program at PGE Energetyka Kolejowa S.A.

How did you first learn about the KAIZEN™ methodology?

My first personal experience with KAIZEN™ was in 2005/2006. I read the book GEMBA KAIZEN, and I had the realization that you can manage things differently. I really liked this topic, and I knocked on Kaizen Institute’s door for the first time. But at this time I was focused on taking care of my children and put the book back on the shelf.

I feel like this program was waiting for me, because in 2017 I found out that PGE Energetyka Kolejowa S.A. had already started activities with Kaizen Institute. I’ve been in the program from the very beginning and I’m still working on it. I’m where I am now because of the start in 2017.

What is the most surprising thing about introducing KAIZEN™ to the company?

I will continue to rely somewhat on the aspect that Continuous Improvement does not need to be defended. The KAIZEN™ methodology, in my understanding, defends itself. Of course, we can never say that we will have 100% convinced people, but I know that we are able to convince people simply by example. It is also an element that allows us to motivate people to continue working.

“As a result of several small changes, that were not costly, we achieved greater success.”

What is your favorite aspect of KAIZEN™?

You can always be better. In 2005/2006, I did not think that I would be responsible for a step-by-step program in our organization. In 1987, when I started working in the railway power industry, I certainly didn’t think about it. But continuous development, the desire to develop, and enabling this development allowed me to get to where I am. I’m very proud of it, but again I know that what I achieved today can be better tomorrow. This is probably my most important aspect.

How has Kaizen Institute helped your company achieve its goals?

All our new tools and ideas are inspired by Kaizen Institute. We try, in accordance with these guidelines, to simply move forward and act.

What kind of help and inspiration does your company receive from Kaizen Institute?

When we started our collaboration in 2017, we did not have much experience because we were a strictly state-owned company from the old days. But with Kaizen Institute’s help, we have received a lot of interesting, modern knowledge and authentic support. It was such a continuous inspiration with constant prompting, saying, “Listen, let’s go in this direction; let’s try it, let’s do something new; let’s act and see what comes of it.” This has allowed us to change and improve our actions continuously over the years, in accordance with the KAIZEN™ methodology.

“The friendships that we made in the beginning have lasted to this day; and not limited to the professional sphere, also privately.”

In 2019, your company received the KAIZEN™ Award from Kaizen Institute. What does this mean for you and the company?

In a few words: It was worth it. It is the culmination of a sometimes-difficult road because we had to overcome many obstacles. But this award allowed us to believe in ourselves. This award shows that it was worth putting in the work because this effort was noticed in a wider community. Personally, I am very happy because it was an amazing experience for me personally.

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