Hansei is a Japanese term meaning self-reflection. While Hansei is recognized as a pillar of the Toyota Production System, the idea of self-reflecting for improvement is an important, central idea in the Japanese culture. The concept of Hansei is to recognize mistakes that were made, spend time reflecting on what went wrong, and taking appropriate action to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Hansei values both internal reflection and promoting personal growth and centers around modesty and humility; it is an approach that will result in successful projects and constant improvement in the facility.

In order to successfully emulate continuous improvement in an organization, leaders and workers will need to review processes and projects with a continual reflection mindset. Within Kaizen activities, Hansei fits nicely in the Check and Act phases of the PDCA cycle. If implementing new standards, new process, or beginning a new project, leaders should schedule Hansei meetings, sometimes called reflection meetings. These meetings should be held periodically throughout the duration of the project, usually during major milestones, as well as the at the end of the project.

During the Hansei meeting, employees and managers have the opportunity to identify problems, develop solutions, and work to implement these solutions to avoid repeated mistakes. Not only managers reflect on the results of the project, but on the process itself. By doing so, leaders can offer support to the team and guide them to achieving better results.

Major failures can be easy to spot for self-reflection, but even if the project is running smoothly and was successful, it still needs to be reflected on. Finding no issues is an issue! No process is perfect, and managers can still identify issues by self-reflecting on seemingly successful projects. Leaders must critical and objective when analyzing the process of the project, as there is always room for improvement and Hansei meetings are a great place to find the problems and ensure they are fixed before the next project.


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