With the exception of the first, every kaizen event day should start with a “plus delta” activity. This simple 15 minute activity is one of reflection on the last 24 hours (think hansei) in which the team identifies the positive things (plus) and that which they would like to change (delta). It’s one of several kaizen event work strategy elements (another being daily team leader meetings). Essentially, it is an opportunity for the team to briefly check, take some brief satisfaction in the good, recognize opportunities for improvement and then make necessary adjustments. It is all about kaizen team effectiveness and learning.
So, how does the plus delta work? It’s pretty basic. At the beginning of each day, usually immediately after the event facilitator has refreshed everyone’s memory relative to the day’s plan, each team member, based on the last 24 hours, individually records pluses on green Post-Its and things they would like to change on pink Post-Its. One item per Post-It. The team members then place the Post-Its on a flip chart. Pluses on the left side, deltas on the right.
After everyone has attached their Post-Its to the flip chart, the facilitator will review several pluses, then several deltas, then several pluses, then several deltas, etc. Pluses usually include things like, “Sub-team activities were very productive,” and “Everyone candidly shared their thoughts and ideas,” while deltas can include things like, “The break-out room was too cold,” or “The team often got off track/scope.”
Reading the deltas is not enough, the team needs to determine appropriate countermeasure(s) for the substantive deltas. For example, in order to ensure that the team does not get off track, all team members should exercise their responsibility to monitor the process. It can’t only be the job of the facilitator, team leader or co-leader! Engaged and responsible team members should flag when the team is off track and help it get back on track.
The plus delta activity is a simple, quick and powerful means of increasing kaizen team effectiveness. What do you think of this tool? How do you facilitate team effectiveness during your kaizen events?