Gemba Kaizen Leadership: They Must Increase, I Must Decrease

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Review of: Gemba Kaizen Leadership
Lean Manufacturing Tool:
Pete Abilla

Reviewed by:
On August 26, 2010
Last modified:May 7, 2014


Gemba Kaizen is about leading effectively and helping others grow. Read this article on how to be a Kaizen leader today.

Gemba Kaizen Leadership is about helping others grow.

The true spirit of Kaizen isn’t just about improving the organization, but it is also in teaching, guiding, and in effectively stretching people beyond their current capabilities. Indeed, it is in developing people and in increasing their capability to contribute and add value.

Staying true to the spirit of Kaizen has a few implications on approach: Rather than be the hero in an organization, Kaizen actually requires us to teach others and coach them to be the hero. The role of a sensei, then, is to really decrease so the student can increase.

They must increase, I must decrease

That’s exactly what is happening where I’m currently employed. My goal is to eventually work myself out of a job. This means my goal is to create enough self-sufficiency in the organization such that they can systematically solve their own problems using the principles of Lean Thinking.

Right now, they need me as their Sensei; over time, as they gain more competency, then they won’t need me anymore.

But, the reality is this: most organizations, like most people, need a coach; a mentor; a teacher; a leader. But the Kaizen vision is free of pretense: create self-sufficiency in the organization so they eventually won’t need me anymore.

I’m okay with that.

My goals are aligned to theirs and I’m looking out for their best interest, not mine.

That’s the true spirit of Kaizen: continuous improvement and developing people.

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