KAIZEN™: the Natural Decision – KAIZEN™ and 5S, changes seen physically and mentally


We have learned that success in the current crisis is based on an optimistic attitude, but this often requires top management of a company to live and breathe the idea of Continuous Improvement.

“Action against planning is the first step, then we see what the results are,” says Wojciech Smardz, Director of Operational Excellence and Supply Chain of CIECH. As a conclusion to CIECH trilogy, Wojciech Smardz discusses with Robin Cox, Kaizen Institute, Ltd., the changes that he has seen physically and mentally throughout CIECH since the start of their KAIZEN™ journey and 5S implementation.

CIECH: Support Functions

CIECH is an international chemical group with a strong position on European and global markets. They build a future-proof and modern chemical holding, that generates value for its stakeholders. The organization uses six support functions that ensure goal implementations, standardized planning, and more.

  • Health & Safety
  • Investment
  • Procurement
  • Innovation
  • HR
  • IT

What changes do you see in CIECH during your KAIZEN™ journey?

When we implemented 5S, we saw the differences between before and after the implementation. The first change is physical. We see that the place is better organized and more effective. We also see the change in behavior of the people. When we finished the 5S implementation in one of our locations, it was the end of August 2022. We saw our people were very proud of what they did. So, we had a celebration of their success. I saw the people, they were very proud, and it was very important for them that someone saw this and said, “Ok, good job, nice.” I also see the change of speech and mind. They see the benefits and are very proud of what they did in the past.

When we did the value stream analysis in two of our locations and initiatives were being investigated, we brought leaders of this initiative together with our team. We asked them to discuss this project: what is the goal, what is the target, what is the action plan; and we saw the people were very involved. They feel like the owners of these projects. They take full responsibility, and we see in their eyes that they are fully committed to this. This is the change of leadership of these projects. It’s very important to build the awareness of leadership and ownership in our teams and transfer this knowledge when cooperating with Kaizen Institute Poland.

What is your personal favorite aspect of KAIZEN™?

For me, there are two points. The first is the people. The motivation of the people, their commitment, and their training. The second is that action is more important than planning. We are not planning, planning, planning. Sometimes we start, make the pilot, check what is important, and investigate the possibilities. Action against planning is the first step, then we see what the results are.

What surprises you the most about KAIZEN™?

I think the surprise is that Kaizen Institute Poland is very hands on. It’s not only to sell the product but to stay true to us. As a positive result of this, we are receiving more feedback. We need the leader of this project, we need the people, we need commitment, we need to meet with you to discuss the status. This is not much of a surprise, but a positive result of our collaboration.

How do you envision your future relationship with Kaizen Institute Poland?

We are quite a big company, with more than 3,000 people and six production sites, some production sites outside of Poland in Germany and Romania. There are a lot of different locations where we’re working with 5S and operational reviews. This year in 2023, we will implement problem solving for all companies in our group and standardize work from the beginning. We see other areas where we plan to launch value stream analysis. I think there are a lot of different possibilities and projects to work together with Kaizen Institute Poland.

Click here to read the first part of this trilogy.

Click here to read the second part of this trilogy.

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