Forming a high-performing Kaizen Team is a strategic activity, which requires a fair amount of forethought and planning. Ultimately, the team must meet seemingly conflicting quality and quantity criteria. Without all the necessary expertise, the team will be handicapped from the beginning, impacting results. But progress will be slow if the team has too many “cooks in the kitchen.”

Kaizen Event Teams must be structured to achieve two desired outcomes: shorter-term performance improvement results, and longer-term workforce development and cultural transformation. Workforce involvement and teamwork are critical elements in creating a continuous-improvement culture. And the team must include the proper mix of individuals who can deliver rapid results. Proper Kaizen Event Team structure ensures that the team will complete an event successfully and lays the foundation for employees to learn and apply lean principles in real time. The following guidelines will help build an effective team:

Kaizen Workshops are tactical-level activities used to implement the strategic directives established by leadership (typically through value stream mapping / Kaizen Assessment). As a result, at least 50 percent of the Kaizen Team needs to be comprised of the employees who actually perform the work being improved. The balance of the team typically includes internal and external customers and suppliers, subject matter experts, representatives from support departments, and outside eyes.

When it comes to high-performing work teams, more is not always better. More than ten people on a Kaizen Team slow progress considerably. Small work groups are essential for rapid decision making and full implementation of the improvements by the end of the Kaizen Workshop. If an event requires more than ten people, revisit the scope and eliminate any redundant representation on the team.

Outside eyes are key part of Kaizen team. Outside eyers refer to objective parties who have no attachment to the outcome of an improvement activity. The most dramatic innovations are often envisioned by people outside the established “community,” rather than from those closest to a process. Outside eyes often ask questions and see opportunities that process workers themselves wouldn’t think to ask about or suggest. They’re able to ask “why” and “what if ” more freely than colleagues who may be handicapped by “that’s the way we’ve always done it” thinking. Having outside eyes on a Kaizen Team creates an effective means for challenging legacy processes and long- standing paradigms. This practice often results in strikingly innovative solutions.

Contact us for more guidance on how to run Internal Kaizen projects. RIB Consulting has been helping organisations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Indian & Dubai to implement Kaizen.