When it is time to plan a Kaizen event, it is obviously important to think carefully about what you are going to tackle and how you are going to go about it. But don’t forget that who is as important as what and how when it comes to rapid improvement events. Every project is different, so the roles needed may vary, but as a best practice, there are five roles that you should be sure to consider.
The Team Sponsor is an executive level resource for the team who will provide support and guidance. He or she will serve as a champion of the cause and help to remove any roadblocks that arise. The Team Sponsor is also responsible for making sure that the functions of each team member are covered during the Kaizen event so that participants can focus 100% of their energy on the improvement project. When the event is complete, the Team Sponsor ensures that success is broadcast to the organization and that participants are recognized for their efforts.
The Team Leader is responsible for guiding the other participants through the event. The Team Leader does not dictate, but rather helps to drive consensus and keeps the team on track. The Team leader sets the objectives for the event and identifies progress milestones. He or she ensures that the team includes the right participants. The Team Leader also creates and distributes the event agenda.
Ideally, the Team Leader will have experience either leading or participating in a successful Kaizen event. If that’s not possible, the person assigned to this role should have some other kind of leadership experience, even if it is outside of work (military, school, church, etc.). They should have excellent collaboration skills and a good working knowledge of the area to be improved. Finally, the Team Leader should be well versed in the continuous improvement philosophy and be familiar with its techniques.
The Data Administrator is responsible for making sure that the Kaizen event is properly documented in the solution that is used to support improvement. There are many names for this role, including Recorder and Scribe, but we prefer to call out the “data” element of documenting the event. This includes capturing baseline measurements as well as post-improvement measures. While everyone is responsible for documenting their own activities throughout the event, the Data Administrator takes a broad view to make sure that the organization’s repository of knowledge expands as a result of the event.
Insider Team Members
Insider team members are people who work in or around the process to be improved. They are subject matter experts who face the problems to be addressed on a day-to-day basis. Their opinions and concerns should bear substantial weight as the team makes decisions.
Outsider Team Members
It is not always necessary to include Outsider Team Members, but people who bring a non-tainted point of view and fresh eyes to the situation can be very helpful. Outsider team members may be people from another functional area of the company, or they may be from outside the company altogether. Examples include consultants, customers, partners and suppliers.
Once you have a strong team assembled, you can get to the work of developing the charter for your Kaizen event and setting objectives. With the right players involved, you’ll give yourself the best odds of resolving some of your organization’s biggest challenges and taking a big leap toward reaching the most important strategic goals.