The Human Side of the Kaizen Event - 11 Questions for Lean Leaders

human side PicYesterday, Defense Industry Daily posted the first half of an article which I co-wrote with Chuck Wolfe, "Want an Effective Kaizen Event? Don't Forget the Human Side!" The second half will be posted next week. Within the article, Chuck an I explore that which is beyond the more obvious technical side of kaizen event management. We delve into the realm of emotions (and emotional intelligence), respect for the individual, humility and lean transformation leadership - all which must be properly considered and leveraged in order to conduct effective kaizen events and, most importantly, develop a lean culture.

Now I don't want to steal any thunder from the article, but I would like to share 11 questions that all lean leaders must answer in order to enjoy kaizen event success and ultimately drive a lean transformation. These questions are aligned within the basic phases of kaizen event management that are detailed in my Kaizen Event Fieldbook:

  • Strategy. 1) Why, how, where and when should lean leaders employ kaizen events to drive value stream improvements and satisfy strategic imperatives, while also positively exposing and engaging stakeholders within the process?
  • Pre-event planning. 2) How can lean leaders best select kaizen event team members for event, employee development and change management impact? 3) How should lean leaders communicate to event-affected employees the what, why, how and when of the planned event? 4) How can lean leaders best train event team leaders and participants so that they are ready for the challenge of the event (discomfort is expected, anxiety not so much . See Stretch, Don't Break - 5 ways to grow your people)? 5) How can lean leaders identify existing feelings in key stakeholders? 6) What feelings are likely to generate forces to push forward and what feelings are likely to hold back positive change? 7) How do lean leaders eliminate/manage negative feelings and create the ideal feelings supportive of changes they wish to make?
  • Event execution. 8 ) How will lean leaders conduct the kaizen event in order to best satisfy and then sustain the event targets while also engaging, challenging, stretching, supporting and developing team members and the organization?
  • Event follow-through. 9) How can lean leaders best recognize the event participants for their effort and accomplishments? 10) How can lean leaders ensure process adherence (to the new standard work) and process performance as well as completion of any “newspaper” items and therefore sustain the kaizen team’s hard earned gains? 11) How can lean leaders continuously improve the kaizen event process, its effectiveness and stakeholder satisfaction…so that they will want to participate in future kaizen events?

So, am I missing any relevant questions? What do you think?