Small Group Activity - SGA

‘There is no problem our own crew cannot solve’ (Swiss site manager)

“The problems we solve always re-occur”

Solving problems in manufacturing plants is often limited to the removal of the symptoms. We tend to spend more time on solving the phenomena yet forget a thorough analysis of the problem. The root-causes are not taken away. Therefore the same problems keep reoccuring!

What is ‘SGA’?

Small Group Activity is a proven team-based improvement technique for Continuous Improvement.

SGA finds its origin in the Japanese industry, where it is called “Kobetsu Kaizen“. SGA is the main technique in the first pillar (“Kobetsu Kaizen“) of TPM.

Others call it Quality Circles (however SGA is not just about quality).

SGA is a method for problem solving in teams by structurally searching for the root causes and eliminating them.

A problem is being identified, defined, investigated to find root causes, and after standardisation of the solution, the reoccurrence of the problem is prevented.

The feeling of ownership is intensified because those who are directly involved solve the problem in a multifunctional team.

The members of the team learn to use techniques (e.g. Ishikawa- (or cause and effect) diagram, Pareto-diagram) to find and eliminate root causes before even thinking about solutions. The team is also taught communication skills, teamwork and decision making, in order to use each other’s knowledge and experience.

Structured approach

The structure of an SGA project is derived from the PDCA-circle from Dr. W. Edward Deming and exists of 8 steps forming the SGA circle. The SGA team works independently and reports the progress by means of communication boards.

SGA Improvement circle

Results of Small Group Activity

The introduction of SGA leads to the following results:

  • Strong Teams
  • Improved communication
  • Higher involvement
  • Capability to analyse and solve problems
  • Deep understanding of the investigate Process/Equipment etc.
  • A sustainable solution to the given problem

The primary goal and result of the SGA is a team with a deep understanding of the problem. As a result, the problem will get eliminated.

Role facilitator

The quality of a SGA depends on the maturity and experience of the team. But a good facilitator is always helpful. The facilitator supports and guides the team: 

  • Follow the structural approach of the SGA project
  • The SGA analysis instruments are applied to the problem
  • Communication skills, working in teams and decision making in teams
  • Coaching SGA-teams during the project
  • Giving the team a safe space to explore the deeper underlying problems and the consequences of the explored solutions.

At the start of a new SGA, the team can follow a SGA-training to make them acquainted with new concepts before taking the dive into the actual problem-solving.


SGA training: “Bridge building” Team-working exercise

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