Gemba Academy Podcast: The Importance of Hansei and Revitalization

Gemba Academy just published the fourth podcast that I’ve had the pleasure of recording with Ron Pereira!

GA Podcast #297: The Importance of Hansei and Revitalization

Ron and I had an opportunity to talk again – in person – at the Association for Manufacturing Excellence annual conference in Chicago in November 2019. We focused on two important concepts that have been on my mind lately – the practice of reflection – or “hansei” in Japanese – and the concept of revitalization.

And we also dived into some deep topics about connecting with gratitude, the relationship between people, and how we can support and help each other. Intention, gratitude, and learning are key words.

Ron and I are both extroverts with a lot of energy, so be prepared for a high energy conversation.

You can listen to the podcast here.

In this post I share a bit more about the topics we discussed. You can also visit my special Gemba Academy page for more resources and a special offer for podcast listeners!

Perseverance and Daruma Dolls

We kicked off our conversation with one of my favorite quotes. It is a Japanese saying “Fall down seven times, get up eight”.

You can learn more about that phrase in another recent blog post of mine – and how it relates to the book I’m writing with Isao Yoshino.

Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8

I also realized that I hadn’t given Ron a daruma doll before, so I rectified that situation! I handed out about 30 darumas to colleagues over the course of the conference. I love spreading daruma love around the world – and it’s time to restock my supply when I am back in Japan next month.

Hansei – Reflection: Learning and Re-learning

The theme of hansei is the foundation of in the forthcoming book (to be released in June 2020) that I’m am writing with Isao Yoshino about his personal leadership learning journey. In fact, the working title is “Practicing Hansei”, but we are not sure if we want to include a Japanese word in the published title (stay tuned – I may need your help!).

Hansei – a Japanese word that translates to “self-reflection” – is a Japanese concept about deeper learning that comes from examining the past and making corrections for the future. Hansei is a fundamental part Japanese culture. Hansei is also is an integral of the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA) cycle of scientific learning that W. Edwards Deming and others introduced to Japan following WWII, and which Japanese business leaders, particularly Toyota, advanced and engrained into their company cultures. Hansei is the the “check and adjust” part of the PDCA wheel and is a key tenant of what became known as “The Toyota Way.”

It’s been an honor to help Mr. Yoshino reflect on his experiences at Toyota and to synthesize his reflections and learning together for you. Ron and I talk about the process of reflection and writing that Mr. Yoshino and I have shared over the past 18 months.

In the podcast I share part of a story from Mr. Yoshino about the biggest professional failure that he had – one at the end of his career and that cost Toyota $13million  – and how it became the source of much learning. I also reference a different story of a mistake Yoshino had at Toyota at the start of his career that Ron and I discussed in detail in the podcast we recorded at the 2018 AME conference. In both cases, how leaders responded to mistakes and failure speaks to Toyota’s culture.

Gratitude, reflection, and helping each other

Ron and I spent some time talking about the connection to gratitude and how it’s so important to reflect and learn from both success and failure.

I think of my dad, who died three years ago, and his positive spirit of finding the good in every day. He lived by the motto “Today is a Great Day” – and it has influenced me greatly.

Take time to slow down to connect with gratitude, learn, and support each others.


Ron and I also discuss the concept of revitalization, which is a word that I often hear in Japan in reference to what we in the West call “Lean”, “Toyota Production System”, or “kaizen” practices. It is often used by Japanese leaders to describe why they focus on engaging their people in continuous improvement – as a way to revitalize the human spirt AND to revitalize the company or industry.

Revitalize is a powerful, energetic word!

For example, one of the first times that I heard the word “revitalize” in reference to why Japanese leaders focus on continuous improvement was my first visit to Ogura Metal in 2016. I subsequently have become friends with Mrs. Noriko Ogura, and spending time with her and at her company is a part of many of my Japan Study Trips.

I talked about revitalization with Patrick Adams, who is joining me on the next Japan Study Trip in 2020, as well. (Go to minute 1:47 to jump to our discussion on “revitalization”). Some of my past Japan Trip participants have said that the trip itself was a way to revitalize their own energy to return home and have renewed passion and ideas for how to support the development of others.

Japan Study Trips

Come with me to Japan in 2020! While the May 2020 trip sold out, I’m excited to be leading two trips to Japan next year. Join me in October. I’m going back to Japan next month, January 2020, to “go to gemba” and put together the final plan for the program.

Come be revitalized! Read what past trip participants have to say about their experiences and some have called it one of the best trips of their lives.

AME Consortia

I love being part of AME’s Consortia program and lead the San Francisco Bay Area Consortium. We have regular activities and would love to have your company join us – check out the SF Bay Area Consortium website for details or contact me.

Consortia are growing around the U.S. and Canada – check out the AME website to learn more.

Other Podcasts

Visit my media page to listen to other podcasts, webinars, and talks.

Links to previous Gemba Academy Podcasts and related blog posts are below.

Gemba Academy Podcast: K2C2 Coaching Communities

Gemba Academy Podcast: How to Leverage Different Lean Experiences

Gemba Academy Podcast: How to Use A3 Thinking with Katie Anderson

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