Using Video for Process Improvement – Part 3: Capturing Footage

If you read our last post, you are now familiar with a variety of video equipment options. Techniques and considerations for capturing footage will depend primarily on what type of improvement activities you are conducting. These can be split up into two major categories: Improvement Workshops, and Daily Kaizen. Remember that this is not an either/or situation. In order to really benefit, you have to make both of these activities a part of your workplace culture. Here are some key factors to consider when adding video to the mix.

kaizen improvement workshop team

Using Video as Part of an Improvement Workshop

Improvement Workshops, or Kaizen Workshops, are learning events first and improvement events second. They give people the skills and knowledge necessary to conduct Kaizen activity on a daily basis. The workshop itself usually last 3 to 5 days. It incorporates both classroom training, and hands-on improvement exercises. The classroom training component is a chance to introduce the tools that the team will be using for analysis. These tools typically include time observation forms, stopwatches, motion diagrams, distance measuring wheels, and waste observation forms. This is a good time to introduce the video equipment and assign people their responsibilities. That way, they can focus on the process during the hands-on segment.

Technical Considerations

Selecting a process to target is an important element of the Improvement Workshop. It will determine what equipment you use and how you use it. Here are the main factors to consider:

3 factors for a kaizen workshop

  • Length of Process
    • A process of a few minutes lends itself well to using mobile phones or handheld camcorders.
    • Longer processes are a good time to consider the use of tripods and time-lapse photography.
  • Size of the Work Area
    • For large work areas you should consider multiple cameras, unless there is a clear path for the camera operator to follow the worker with a handheld camera and still maintain a steady shot.
  • Number of People Working
    • For processes that involve a lot of people, you should consider action cameras that can be attached to workers or even their equipment for multiple perspectives.
    • With that said, it is good to support POV shots with a wide “master shot” to help people understand the close up footage in its proper context.

Interpersonal Considerations

A 2012 paper published by the U.K.’s National Centre for Research Methods covers the topic of using video for research in some detail. Much of this paper is focused on the use of video for sociological studies. This might seem somewhat removed from the nuts-and-bolts atmosphere of a Lean manufacturing facility, but as the Lean mantra goes, “Kaizen is about people.” Video has arguably the most immediate and personal connection of any research tool. It can capture subtle gestures and expressions that could not be recorded on a timetable or a motion diagram. Always take any insecurity people express seriously. If your team is uncomfortable with the analysis format, they will not perform their job the way they usually do, and the information you collect might be inaccurate. The comfort of participants always comes first. Building support for Lean efforts can sometimes be a challenge, but you can’t make real progress with out it.

Using Video for Daily Kaizen Analysis

This is what Kaizen is all about: ongoing improvement activity that is built into daily work. Remember that this is about empowerment. Employees need to take charge, and this logic should be applied to your approach to video recording and analysis. Employees need the means and motivation to document problems when they find them to ensure they don’t happen again. Video is a great tool for documentation and it is becoming increasingly easy to share. Instead of simply jotting down the issue on a suggestion board, workers can provide images and in-the-moment verbal explanations that can be uploaded and shared almost instantly. Naturally you don’t want anyone getting carried away and trying to be a YouTube star (or do you?). However, incorporating an interactive social element to the problem solving process has a lot of untapped potential. We’d like to see more companies experiment with video as an improvement tool and we hope this series of articles will help inspire creative new solutions.


Capturing great footage is very satisfying, but as any filmmaker knows, sorting through that footage to find the most valuable shots is no small task. You will need to edit your footage, and more importantly, identify key moments in the process that can be improved.

November 20, 2015

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