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What is Kaizen?
Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy of work which essentially means continuous improvement. A Kaizen team generally includes a team of both workers and managers who work together to find effective solutions to identified problems. Essentially, a Kaizen team is comprised of Kaizen participants, a leadership team and a Kaizen facilitator. To understand what does a Kaizen facilitator do and his role and responsibilities, continue reading the article.
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What Does a Kaizen Facilitator Do?
The Kaizen facilitator is responsible for encouraging the Kaizen team to discuss critical issues openly. The Kaizen facilitator should choose the right lean management tools which would provide solutions to the critical issue. This is the idea-generation phase, wherein the facilitator defines the subject of the brainstorming session and writes it down for the team to see. There are different techniques that can be followed by the Kaizen facilitator in this phase. Either, the facilitator asks each of the team members for ideas one at a time and then displays all the ideas to the team for further discussion. Else, the facilitator can ask the team members who have genuine ideas to raise their hands and then explore more on these later. In yet another method, the facilitator asks each team member to write down their individual ideas and publish it on a white board.
After ideas are captured, the next phase which is the discussion phase begins. During meetings and discussions, the Kaizen facilitator should moderate the conversations of the team and assist the team to clarify the identified issue, and help in generation of solution. The Kaizen facilitator is responsible for making sure that the Kaizen team keeps focus on the issue and follows the problem solving process. It is important that the team reaches a consensus on the solution.
The Kaizen facilitator ensures that every member participates in the discussion process and that the discussions held are very openly. There should not be a need for silent disagreement. The facilitator ensures that the Kaizen participants have no fear in challenging the current business processes. He also makes sure that the final decisions made are based on facts and figures rather than on emotions or personalities. The facilitator also makes sure that all the team members are equally informed and that no one has access to insider information which is inappropriate for the brainstorming session.
The Kaizen facilitator also ensures that all the team members have knowledge of elementary quality tools and the basics rules of a brainstorming session. If it is seen that any of the participants lack training in the basic quality tools, then the facilitator ensures that this is provided for. The facilitator should have good negotiation and people skills which would help to moderate during meetings.
Also, the facilitator should ensure that the brainstorming sessions are not dominated by just one individual and that the whole team participates. The facilitator ensures that the brainstorming session follows a process of problem-solving rather than finger-pointing. All the participants should listen to each other’s suggestions and respect every individual's ideas.
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Richard J. Mayer, Ph.D and others/ http://commons.wikimedia.org/