Anyone who has dealing with Japanese people would have come across the term Hansei. The literal meaning of the term is self-reflection but this term has a far greater connotation. It denotes a pledge to improve oneself after acknowledging ones mistake and reflecting upon it. This term is far more powerful than the English term ‘sorry’ which is what some people erroneously believe it to mean.
Hansei is a very important part of the Japanese style of management and it has undeniably helped large manufacturing companies achieve success. It can be used in various industries because it is a very powerful tool. It helps companies in the following ways:
– The emphasis of this tool is to find out exactly what went wrong so that accountability can be fixed. However, it is necessary for more than just blaming someone. Its purpose is to come up with a set of plans that ensure that the problem does not occur again.
– Even if the problem has been caused due to external factors, the process of Hansei will try to understand whether any internal factors could have contributed to it. Further, internal factors should have been altered in order to accommodate external changes.
– The objective is to ensure that the process of identifying mistakes is done in a consistent manner. This helps keep quality at a consistently high level.
– This tool is used to find various opportunities for improvement. There is such great emphasis on looking for improvement that the absence of problems is not something to be celebrated because it actually indicates that the particular department has not exerted itself to exceed targets. In addition, employees are encouraged to regard success in a modest manner so that they realize that improvement is possible.
– Teams within the organization engage in acknowledging mistakes and accepting responsibility as a group. This is a very open exercise and is conducted without any secrecy. Since this exercise is done in a positive manner, people are very forthcoming with their suggestions for improvement.
Focusing on the negatives of any work process actually is a positive activity when it is done in the correct manner. Many companies use the process of Hansei at the end of every project even if nothing has ostensibly gone wrong. This enables them to maintain consistently high standards of performance, resulting in increased profitability and customer satisfaction.
Bottom Line: Hansei is completely different from the Western style of saying sorry. Find out how it can be used to improve a company’s performance.