Kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy that revolves around the concept of continuous improvement, the monitored progress of an organization in regards to a preset goal. While some kaizen practitioners such as Masaaki Imai have presented specific ways that this philosophy has been applied, there is no step-by-step method that explains how to conduct a kaizen meeting. Rather, the emphasis of the kaizen method is placed on reestablishing the value of shared principles -— teamwork, communication, flexibility, adaptability, effort and quality. It is through the process of this collective affirmation that lean production can be achieved.
Determine the purpose of the meeting. In kaizen, meetings are either for project planning, which includes goal setting and division of duties, or project review, during which team members report success and difficulties to the team.
Invite the entire team to the meeting. Do not omit periphery personnel from participating; their inclusion helps keep all of your colleagues in the loop.
Invite project managers from related projects to sit in on your meeting to foster a sense of horizontal integration and community within the company.
Welcome participants to the meeting. Provide name tags and seat assignments as necessary. Be sure to book a venue which maximizes face-to-face interaction. For a small group, a round or oval table is best.
Post the meeting goals in a prominent location. Read the goals to the group and answer short questions necessary for clarification.
Ask for input from the group about the goal. For example,, was a weekly goal met or exceeded? Provide multiple means for participants to give their input; ideas can be shared via a show of hands, oral comments, written statements or a communal brainstorming chart.
Collect the input and restate it to the group. Do not omit negative comments or overemphasize the positive. Negative comments can be revealing, drawing attention to the areas that require improvement.
Set or reaffirm short-term goals. Write down tasks and sub-goals on note cards. Provide each participant with a note card that informs each one of his or her personal goals and duties.
Respond to any lingering concerns or questions.
Guide the meeting discussion so that all concerns are addressed, even if your perspective as the project leader makes it difficult to see the validity of these worries.
There are four main phases in a kaizen process: perception, idea development, decision-making and implementation. Meetings can occur at and between any of these phrases and may be tailored toward any of these processes. For example, a meeting at the beginning of a project might focus on reviewing the existing problems and observing the effects of the corporate culture.
Sylvia Cini has written informative articles for parents and educators since 2009. Her articles appear on various websites. Cini has worked as a mentor, grief counselor, tutor, recreational leader and school volunteer coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Clark University of Worcester, Massachusetts.