The 60-minute kaizen exercise we call “stand in the circle” originates in the teaching method Taiichi Ohno used which involved a piece of chalk, a circle drawn on the concrete floor, and a manager left to stand in it for hours. Ohno would return to check on what the manager had learned through observation. Woe to the manager who answered “No problems here, sir!” as he was sure to spend some more hours in that circle.
In our method we ask the student to stand in one spot on the gemba and find 30 small things that bother them in 30 minutes about the area they are observing. Then they must eliminate at least one of these wastes, nonconformities or unsafe conditions within the next 30 minutes. It is a one-hour kaizen.
The template below is useful in keeping track of where you are in your target of finding 30 things. It is also useful in reminding you of what the seven types of waste are. The important thing is that there is intense concentration on finding problems (seeds of improvement). The 30 minute and 30 items is an arbitrary selection which rounds out nicely to 1 hour when combined with the “one thing I will fix” and seems to work well, but feel free to experiment.
Download the template for the Stand in the Circle exercise by clicking on the link or the image above.
The best ideas are the small obvious things that you can address right away. These are many, and the quicker these small problems are recognized and removed, the fewer complex and opaque problems there will be.
We have used the stand in the circle activity where the focus in on finding 30 improvements in one area such as safety, quality, environmental or energy wastes. This can be much harder when standing in one spot! Nonetheless the habit of standing in the circle and using this template is well worthwhile, both for developing problem awareness in people and for the practical kaizen result you will gain.