Hansei “Reflection”

In Japanese culture, Hansei, is a personal and continual exercise of identifying problems in oneself and creating plans to ensure they do not reoccur.  Heavily practiced at Toyota, even if a project is successful, a hansei-kai (reflection meeting) still occurs  to review what went wrong.  Employees are reminded that “no problem is a problem,” and that they haven’t objectivly evaluated their work to find areas for improvement.  You might think this this would be difficult to endure – constant critiquing of work, searching for problems, negative feedback.  However, in Japan, this is embedded in their kaizen (continuous improvement) culture. 

Hansei typically has three elements:

  • Individual recognition of a problem – a gap between expectations and achievement
  • Individual responsibility for the problem and deep regret
  • The individual commits and makes a plan to improve

What are your thoughts about this concept?  Have you or do you practice Hansei?  What would it take to begin this practice within your work?

In my quest for more information for this blog post, I found a lot of information all summarizing this very concept.  In my search however, I was lucky to stumble upon a story about a personal experience with Hansei – after reading this post, it clicked.  Read it here.   At Toyota, hansei-kai are conducted at project milestones and at project completions, but this article reminds that it is also very well a part of their culture.


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