Yoyo pictureKaizen event team selection is a critical driver of event effectiveness. Selection criteria includes team representation (to promote diversity, perspective, ownership, and development opportunities), size, chemistry, kaizen experience, and behavioral and technical skills. In short, the team, typically six to eight members, should be picked around the event, not vice versa.

So, every member counts. The expectation is that team members are dedicated during the event. Truth of the matter, the team leader should be an integral part of the pre-event planning, execution and follow-through. Similarly, many team members must also support the follow-through phase of the event.

Team members often have specific roles to play, above and beyond “participant.” There is typically a team leader and co-leader and often there are, officially or unofficially, other roles:

  • “Navigator”  – one or more kaizen event veterans who are competent with the kaizen process, forms, etc.,
  • “Fresh eyes” – those who are not from the target area and are unencumbered by allegiance or intimate exposure to the process. They’re free to ask the “dumb questions,” like “WHY?,”
  • Operator or associate – stakeholders from the target area who have first-hand knowledge of the process and its people and who will (hopefully) help evangelize others and sustain the gains after the event,
  • Builder or technologist – multi-skilled maintenance person, machinist, IT person, analyst, etc. who will help the team safely make, modify, move and test things and/or serve as liaison with other support functions,
  • Compliance officer – typically someone who is product/service knowledgeable and will help the team comply with the various regulatory requirements.

So, where does  the yo-yo concept come into play? Team member commitment must be full time for the kaizen event, with only very rare exceptions. “Yo-yos” are team members who are repeatedly pulled out of the event for “important” meetings and projects by their supervisors. These in-again, out-again folks accomplish little other than to distract and demoralize their fellow members. They must constantly be brought up to speed relative to team progress and direction and do not deliver on their assigned countermeasures  – how can they, they’re never there!?

Yo-yos take a valuable spot on the team roster that would have been better filled by a dedicated member. Furthermore, effective lean leaders don’t tolerate yo-yo’s and don’t pull the string themselves.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Related post:  The Human Side of the Kaizen Event – 11 Questions for Lean Leaders