'HANCHO' is a Japanese term meaning improvement manager and also group spokesperson. Han stands for '(small) group', chō for 'spokesperson/leader'. The function and meaning of the HANCHO are closely related to the well-known Lean Management. The HANCHO received special attention at the team leader level at a Japanese automotive company. Its implementation in the production process brought significant improvements in the car company's processes and led to a high increase in quality.
A HANCHO in industry is similar to the team manager or group spokesperson of a smaller production group of about 6 to 10 people. He is authorised to give instructions and is very familiar with all processes and work steps in the production plant. In case of staff problems and bottlenecks, he can help out at different workplaces. This could also be done by a jumper, but a HANCHO's skills as an observer, manager and employee are more far-reaching. He is someone who drives his team to grow, develops and reviews standards, solves problems and continuously strives for improvement (CIPs). He leads his team, trains and informs them, ensures that processes run smoothly, takes charge of quality management and provides training and development for individual employees.
Especially in Lean Management, managers exercise a generalist function. Although the HANCHO belongs to the lowest management level, for example, he or she reports to the group leader, shift supervisor or even the foreman in a smaller company, he or she must nevertheless combine a high level of social competence with technical and productive knowledge. In order to lead his team according to these standards and to continuously perform at a high level, it is important that the HANCHO is always up to date. A high rate of further training and willingness are essential in this respect.