10 Ways that Kaizen Develops Better Leaders

Posted on 18 Feb 2009 by The Manufacturer

The lord of the lean lists, Jon Miller of Gemba Research, provides his latest installment...

1. Attention. The leader well-heeled in kaizen notices the small things and is bothered by them if they seem abnormal.

2. Vision. The practice of kaizen gives a leader an idea of what is possible, an image of the ideal, enabling long-term thinking instead of a focus on the nearest alligator of daily firefighting.

3. Insight into the business is developed through reflection on problems, their root causes and how to solve them.

4. Teamwork is part and parcel of leadership that is strengthened by effectively facilitating kaizen events or coaching others on turning their ideas into reality through suggestion schemes.

5. Advancing your team member’s careers by walking along side them on their learning journey, mentoring them and keeping them from wavering on the path of the creative thinking process is also a leadership habit kaizen develops.

6. Linking the impact of many small, practical improvements requires that the up and coming leader become more familiar in the financial language and formulas of her company, despite its limitations, in order to link these actions to the top level management agenda.

7. Clarity in the mind of the leader well-heeled is developed through observation during kaizen activity, resulting high situational awareness that is not easily distracted by misdirection, but able to focus on eliminating waste, variation and overburden systematically.

8. Respect. Kaizen teaches respect for people, time, resources, and differences in viewpoint, all qualities of an effective leader.

9. Objectivity is the ability to face and manage by fact and kaizen develops this in a leader by requiring them to practice genchi genbutsu, by checking one’s assumptions by testing them through experimentation, and turning the PDCA cycle.

10. Connections are built between internal customer-supplier relationships, making stronger personal relationships as well as a stronger organization through kaizen.

Attention to detail: if you have it, you may notice a thing or two in this article hidden in plain view.

By Jon Miller of Gemba Research and Gemba Panta Rei blog