Hansei and the power of reflection
It takes courage to objectively reflect on performance—individually or corporately. Without honest reflection and feedback, creating a continuous improvement culture can be incredibly difficult. And while traditional feedback methods—like employee or customer surveys—have their strengths, they lack in timeliness. By the time periodic survey results land in your inbox, months have often passed—and with them, opportunities to make vital corrections in course.
Enter Hansei, a Japanese word that captures the spirit of introspection, and one of the most heavily used tools in Lean methodology. Hansei can increase your capacity to be responsive to evolving marketplace and organizational realities. Perhaps best of all, Hansei can help you easily gauge the environment around you.
3 simple steps, 3 simple questions
Harnessing the power of Hansei is a surprisingly simple undertaking. All it requires is for you to develop the discipline of reflection. Here’s how:
Take 10 minutes, daily or weekly, to bring your team together for a standing meeting (standing helps keep the meeting brief and focused).
Ask and listen—Just three simple questions, in this order:
- What are we doing well?
- Where could we improve?
Who needs help or support?
- Most importantly, act as a team on what is shared.
3 Hansei tips
Cultivating the Hansei habit at the grassroots level in team meetings is a great way to start benefiting from Lean. These tips can help spread the practice of Hansei throughout your organization.
When should I conduct a Hansei?
- At the conclusion of routine project, or a department or team meeting
- Following the launch of a new product or service
- At the beginning or end of a shift/day/week, or mid-week
Anytime you need timely feedback!
Who should lead the Hansei?
- Everyone. Hansei is a simple, powerful skill that all members of the organization should develop and practice.
Consider rotating responsibility for facilitating the hansei, irrespective of title or role.
What if I can’t get everyone together at the same time?
This becomes an easy and tempting excuse, but it’s a reality for most teams. If you find yourself in similar situation, consider using teleconference or videoconference. Meaningful Hansei does not require physical co-location. This also has the peripheral benefit of unifying distributed teams.
How does your organization use Hansei? I’d love to hear from you. Share your Hansei tips and experiences in the comment section below.