Improving Processes & Building Relationships
KEP’s Kaizen improvement events are an important part of our success story for many reasons. Holding hundreds of these Kaizen events over the years has not only made a positive impact on our bottom line, they have also improved the daily work of our team members and helped them to form great relationships.
The goal of our Kaizen events is to remove barriers, make the work easier, less stressful, and certainly more rewarding. One thing that is never included in a Kaizen summary but does not go unnoticed is the relationships that are built during these events, especially when representatives from all three facilities are present. These relationships not only carry over into the everyday work environment but outside of the workplace as well.
Kaizen events offer the opportunity to spend a week with coworkers, likely ones you have not even met yet from other locations, to work together to improve a job, process or department. This time it may be your job, process, or department, the next time it may be a coworker’s. Every member of the team has an important role. Some of these rules are known when the Kaizen starts, some are assigned on the first day and some develop naturally. The team creates a natural bond due to the collaboration that takes place during the week.
The 6 Roles During a Kaizen Event
1. The Expert
This person has the most knowledge of the process or area being assessed. They are able to provide the team with history, give reasons for why things are done the way they are, and have the most knowledge to map the process properly. They will also know all the shortcuts employees take to work around obstacles in their department – the reality is often different than what the procedure says we should do.
2. The Rookie
This person has no knowledge of the process and has never done it before. They come into the group with no preconceived thoughts on what can or cannot be changed. Their lack of knowledge will help the Question Asker think of more questions and contribute to finding solutions.
3. The Question Asker
This person will continually be asking how, why and when in order to better understand the process but also to challenge the status quo. Why do we do it this way? Can we do it another way? This team member naturally asks questions, just by trying to understand the process, which is very productive in a Kaizen event.
4. The Scribe
This person will be the note taker, likely the writer of the process map as it is spread across the wall of the training room. They will be the one who does the majority of the summary work, changing or writing of procedures and general recording of the event.
5. The Leader
Although this position is appointed, it is often apparent by the end of the day who the leader is going to be. We strongly urge the group not to make the leader the owner of the process or someone who is a supervisor or manager in their normal position. The goal of this person is to keep the team focused and moving forward. They may develop a plan of action and help assign individuals to accomplish those tasks.
6. The Facilitator
This person is not in the Kaizen but they are responsible for keeping the team on track and moving along. They remove obstacles, answer questions, provide data and/or inside and outside resources to help the team accomplish their goals. They will challenge the team on their thoughts, ideas, suggestions in order to get the best possible solutions.
Our Kaizen summaries serve as great examples of the different roles and how Kaizen teams work together to take on varying types of challenges.
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