A Hidden Asset of a Kaizen Event

I have been fortunate to have a slew of well qualified individuals on my podcast that have discussed Kaizen and Kaizen Events. Karen Martin of KS Martin & Associates was one of them and offered this definition of who should attend a Kaizen Event (You can listen to part 2 of 3 of the Karen Martin Podcast in this Tuesday’s blog post):

Joe:  Do you try to kind of leave the rank and leadership position at the door? I mean try to be all on equal footing when you’re inside an event?

Karen:  Absolutely. We have what we call Kaizen commandments or some organizations call them rapid improvement events, and in that case it’s RIE rules. And one of the rules is rank has no privilege. And as a facilitator if I think there might be an issue with that, and it can go both ways. It could be that we’ve got someone more senior on the team who has a very strong personality and might via nature of that personality shutdown some of the more junior members. Or it might be junior members that I want to coach into helping them realize that they were very carefully selected.

In a good team formation process, it’s very strategic on who you put on that team. And so if you help them realize that they were hand?picked to be on this team and they are not only authorized, they are also obligated to speak up and represent their peer group, et cetera.

I sometimes will do some of that work upfront to make sure that when we talk about the commandments or the rules on day one, that people truly understand what we mean by rank has no privilege.

I think this type of event offers leadership a unique opportunity to “walk the talk.” They can participate in open and frank conversation, promote empowerment and break down many organizational barriers. This may be the first step in developing an ongoing continuous improvement culture. Their expressed enthusiasm for recommendations and recognition of other participants will go a long way in implementing the course of actions. Even if they raise the negatives they have the opportunity to state the reasons in a non-leadership role that can be very much more effective. However, they must be willing to accept being challenged and must not start exercising a sole person power of approval. cropLeadership should enjoy a Kaizen event. It gives them the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and participate, solve problems and communicate with the people that actually carry out the implementation. In fact, I think it would benefit any manager if it would be required that they participate in a Kaizen Event at least once a year. Maybe, through other Trade Organizations such as AME, they could find ways to participate in another member’s Kaizen Events.

The Hidden asset of a Kaizen vent is its ability to develop Leadership. The story Copy This!: Lessons from a Hyperactive Dyslexic who Turned a Bright Idea Into One of America’s Best Companies, discusses Paul Orfalea difficulties, which gave him “learning opportunities.” He explained that it propelled him to think differently, and to develop an unorthodox, people-centered, big-picture business model that relied heavily on the intelligence and skill of his franchise managers. Orfalea’s exuberant and irreverent attitude — he freely admits to cheating in school and relying on others to get him through college and his positive acceptance of his dyslexia should inspire many others. He mentioned in his book that when he walked into a room, he knew he was not the smartest person in it! Wonder if most leaders do that when they walk into a Kaizen Event?

Related Posts:

Holding successful Kaizen Events, part 1 of 3

Lean Office Kaizen Event Ebook