Do You Kaizen?

There are two basic kinds of changes:

1) Explosive Innovation
2) Small Incremental Alterations

Often, it is believed that explosive innovation is necessary to improve a system, a process, an organization. Innovation is wonderful, especially when the current way is failing; however, if a current methodology is not ‘broken’, then small incremental alterations are often the best way.

Also, one of the best ways to start a new habit, from daily exercise to creating a task list, is to begin small and then expand once that has been mastered. For example, one might begin walking 15 minutes a day. After a while, the time period may increase to 30 minutes or a more strenuous exercise, like jogging, may replace it.

The Japanese have used this of minor changes and their word for it is Kaizen which means “improvement” but a better English translation is “continuous improvement”. Companies like Toyota have used Kaizen at all levels of their organization to become a world-class company. In part, their success is due to an entire workforce that is dedicated to always finding a better way each and every day.

Change is rapid in the 21st century; flexibility and adaptability are needed to be productive. This means that it is necessary to review and revise the ways we do things.

Today, look at a common process that you have control over. This could be as simple as cleaning your home or as complex as your latest work project. Thing about how you could make it better.

Consider all the steps. I suggest you write them down or figure out the overall workflow. Then, ask yourself these simple questions:

  • What step might be a waste of activity (superfluous, unneeded)?
  • What step might be a duplicate or repetitive?
  • What two steps might be combined into a single action?
  • What step causes the longest time delay? How can that be reduced?
  • What step can be improved to result in a better, shorter, faster way?

Small incremental changes result with powerful outcomes over time. If you were to lose 3 pound a month, this would be 36 pounds after a year. Kaizen should be part of your life.