Imagine a situation that has two possible outcomes:
- The solution is delivered on time and on budget with very positive Customer feedback
- The solution is delivered late, over budget and doesn’t meet the needs of the Customer
What typically happens?
In the first case we celebrate and pop the corks on bottles of champagne.
In the second case we call for a post-mortem, an exercise that is mostly fault finding and look for whose blame. Typically, we don’t look into process issues that caused the problems and ask Why? Result - no real learning and no improvements.
Even in the first case, with no review there is no shared learning. In this case the review should be on what went well and Why? What have we learned? What do we need to do to lock this learning into standards that can be used next time?
In both cases we want to ask the basic questions:
- What should be happening?
- What actually happened?
- Why are there differences?
This drill will help us improve even if the results are very good since sometimes the results were good because we got lucky. I don’t know of any leader who wants to rely on luck as a management technique since it has a habit of turning next time.
There are always things that go wrong and all processes have waste. Kaizen is the relentless drive to remove this waste and to strengthen the health of our processes. But before we can kaizen our processes, we need to use Hansei to truly reflect upon the situation, and upon the health of our processes. Hansei is used to truly Grasp the Situation and requires honest, deep reflection and thought, both when things go well and when they don’t. Design reviews, gate reviews and post launch reviews are opportunities for leaders to zoom out and assess the health of the underlying process and look for improvements. Hansei leading to kaizen.