Facilitators, their role in a kaizen event

A kaizen facilitator has various tasks to complete, for example keep the team focus, engaged, and energized.

Various roles are critical for a successful continuous improvement event. One of those roles is the event facilitator.  He or she is responsible for leading the event, but that is not the only responsibility.  

What are the responsibilities of the facilitator?

Most of the time, the facilitator is also the kaizen or continuous improvement event planner.  As an event planner, they organize and prepare all the activities related to the event.  For instance, the facilitator works with the event leaders to establish the scope of the event and develop the charter.  Also, they identify and gather resources and materials while keeping everything under budget.  

During the event, the facilitator has a couple of responsibilities that can make or break the activity.  A CI event requires a good coach that guides the team by asking questions.  Through these questions, he or she helps the team to see and approach problems using lean thinking.  In other words, participants learn lean thinking by doing it.  

While executing the different steps of the event, the use of CI tools is common.  Because not all team members know those tools, they learned them from the teacher or facilitator.  This means that during the event, they develop team skills.  

Keep the team motivated

Unfortunately, not everything always goes as planned.  Sometimes, participants do not show interest or lose focus during the event.  When that happens, it is time to put on a different hat.  This time the facilitator will act as a motivator and cheerleader.  Accepting change is never easy.  Therefore, people need to understand the purpose of the event.  Furthermore, why they are participating in the event and what is in there for them.

Even when event participants know those things, keeping them motivated and engage in the activities is a tall order.  A good facilitator will take time to learn about their audience before the action starts. Knowing ahead how they learn better and their learning type will go a long way to keep them motivated.

Some parts of a continuous improvement or kaizen event can be bored.  Not everybody enjoys sitting in a room for hours or analyze information.  The facilitator needs to work hard to keep those individuals engaged and energized.  A way to do this is to acknowledge those challenges and the accomplishment of milestones during the activity.  Celebrate those accomplishments as all small wins.  Keep the audience active by incorporating exercises and having them assisting you in some parts.  For example, participants can help as scribers.

Facilitators also manage conflict

Another situation that is inevitable when we are dealing with change is conflict.  Some people will be more open than others to accept change or participate in activities that lead to change the status quo. Those groups may disagree on the causes or solutions.  When that happens, the facilitator acts as a mediator to help those groups to reach a consensus.  

There are a few other things that can cause some trouble.  For instance, when technology fails, it must pivot and adjust the training to the new circumstances.  The same happens when the original training plan is not working.

Help the team succeed is the most important job of the facilitator

The event facilitator’s most important job is to help the team succeed.  Teaching and coaching while focusing on the kaizen’s objective is a critical part of that job.  Also, to remove any obstacles to learning and keep the group energized.  Motivate and show respect by focusing your attention on whoever is sharing an idea or commenting on a subject.  Celebrate small wins and praise teamwork and collaboration.  In other words, create a positive and safe environment that invites people to participate and be the best they can be!