Kaizen is a term that no longer needs to be explained. Here at David Kiger’s blog we have mentioned it quite a bit in many of our articles and understand the amazing results this business practice can yield when properly applied to everyday company operations.
Kaizen focuses on improvement. It’s a philosophy of patience and constant change towards a better way of doing things little by little. The improvement of standardized activities and processes, seeking the eventual elimination of waste, makes Kaizen an effective practice in sectors like logistics, purchasing, the supply chain, assembly line operations and further to fields like life-coaching, psychotherapy, banking, education and more.
Toyota, the automotive manufacturer has made Kaizen one of its core values. The practices of continuously changing for the better is something that the company has instilled in every single aspect of its company culture. Toyota continues to understand the importance of implementing “small improvements” and has made it so all of its employees understand that they are part of what makes Kaizen work and ultimately responsible for their company’s success.
How can I use this concept in my own life?
Understanding Kaizen is the first thing we must do in order to see the amazing possibilities that can come from implementing principles such as this in our own personal growth. Kaizen’s relevance to personal development has been already identified by experts who understand the benefits of using small steady improvements to our methods, as a way to accomplish our goals in life. Just acknowledging the fact that human beings naturally reject rapid changes, is the beginning to opening your eyes to see what Kaizen offers. A slow steady improvement upon a certain area of your personal life, if the correct approach to begin your journey towards becoming a better person.
Where to begin?
The first thing you must do is to have a clear understanding of your goals and the direction to which you wish to concentrate your efforts on improving yourself. Project your ideals and dreams in a big way and do not be intimidated by the size of your goals. Then, return to earth and break this down into the smallest possible portions that seem manageable and simple. Make a list of your daily activities and figure out what, how and where you can be more efficient in your routine. You can accomplish this by analyzing your current personal practices like the way you answer emails, how long it takes you to get ready and how much time you spend during the day putting off tasks in order to complete them later.
If you want to stop smoking, for example, begin with very small and gradual changes instead to aiming for a harsh and drastic modification to your routine. You will start to feel better about yourself if you commence by reducing the amount of cigarettes you smoke in a day and begging utilizing that time you would otherwise spend smoking, doing something more productive.
Make time to put your new improvement practices in place. Take action and review your current schedule. If you are honest with yourself you will be able to make time by eliminating habits that aren’t helping you better yourself and fill that time with practical ways to set your new routines in place.
Stay positive and congratulate yourself in the way. Understand that Kaizen is filled with “mini goals” and you should celebrate those accomplishments. It doesn’t matter if you were able to simply save a bit of money this month, or reduced your consumption of sweets and junk food. Make sure goals are clearly set, no matter how small, and reward yourself when you are successful in your endeavors.
Once you feel that you are beginning to see results (even small ones) refocus your aim and make your general goals into something more specific. This type of attitude will help you concentrate your efforts and will into something understandable and easier to grasp. If your goal is to become a better leader in your company, then think about a specific accomplishment you want your team to conquer and how your leadership can take you there. The specific focus of your efforts will help you feel like your advancement is being measured, and the quantification of your improvement will motivate you to continue growing.
Be consistent. This is probably one of the hardest things to do because falling into old habits is very easy. The magic of Kaizen comes from the fact that changes are so gradual and organically driven, that it will hardly feel like there is a redirection to the way you do things. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall of the wagon. You are human and it is understandable that sometimes we make mistakes or have difficulty sticking to our path.
Understand that you can simply get back on track and continue right where you left off. You will see that is worth it and that you can truly accomplish your goals, little by little.