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How Effective Is Your Kaizen Leader?

written by: Jayant R Row • edited by: Jean Scheid • updated: 6/19/2013

A Kaizen leader heads up a team committed to identified quality improvement processes within a company. All team members benefit directly from the results of a Kaizen event. Progress results from the chosen teams and the facilitator, all of whom constitute a very important part of the process.

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    Team Roles


    Kaizen refers to practices that are focused on a continuous improvement of processes involved in manufacturing, engineering, supporting business processes, and management. The expectations of a Kaizen leader may vary; however, Kaizen roles are chosen carefully based on experience.

    A Kaizen team consists initially of the facilitator who sets up the Kaizen team and event. He is likely to be the one who is completely responsible for the improvements that are born from the Kaizen event. The facilitator generally represents the company's management team.

    The facilitator then appoints a team leader to manage the Kaizen event. The leader should be someone who is very familiar with every aspect of the process being studied, and his experience and capability are more important here than seniority or position.

    The Kaizen team leader then works with his team who will assist him in the brainstorming, formulating revised norms, and final implementation of the suggested changes or improvements. He bases his team on their experience and capabilities and looks to include people who are involved in the process at various stages of its implementation, from the bottom up.

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    PDCA Two Cycles Wikimedia Commons The role of a team leader may vary slightly form organization to organization, but generally covers the same needs. He or she would initially discuss the event with the facilitator, define the required scope, and then identify team members before selecting them in consultation with the facilitator. The leader makes a preliminary study of the entire process and list findings and communicates the same to his team.

    The expectations of the Kaizen leader is to arrange meetings and initial brainstorming sessions including preparation of an agenda for each meeting. Once the team moves to the forming and implementation stage, the leader arranges to take all action necessary to involve the other members of the process, which may sometimes involve induction and training.

    For a team leader to be effective, he or she must receive the full cooperation from team members and the facilitator and in turn places expectations on each of them so the final goal is reached. Expectations of a Kaizen leader from his facilitator mandate the leader to lay out the objectives and scope of the Kaizen event very clearly. The lines of reporting and control must remain clear and unambiguous. Each and every person must bring into play the expertise that they have from within or outside the process being studied.

    Technical or staff persons who are part of the team but not of the process directly will provide input and guidance as required by the team leader. Any member of the team who represents the customer lends full support to the team and provides guidance where necessary. A Kaizen team leader also expects all team members to voice their opinions and ideas and any concerns they may have of the trend of the discussions or actions being taken. They should be fully involved at all times and give the leader the benefit of their own experience and expertise at all times.

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