One small step can totally be life-changing. As David Kiger has previously mentioned in previous posts, Kaizen, or believing in taking small steps towards a much greater goal, is exactly what today’s juncture is needing. Making small steps to change the way companies, and even individuals, do things, is the perfect approach to issues and problems: whenever company executives, CEOs, employees and individuals face problems, the often forgot to wonder whether there is another way to solve them.
Kaizen, as mentioned before, and in short, is the practice of continuous improvement. Which is, of course, a reinterpretation of what was said above. When used in the business field and sense, and applied to the workplace irrespective of current conditions, Kaizen commonly refers to activities that continuously improve all processes, functions, and procedures; it involves, of course, all employees ranging from the CEO to the assembly line and the lady responsible for picking up the phone at the front desk. It spans over all areas and applies to all sorts of processes such as procurement and logistics: basically, those that get past organizational boundaries into the supply chain. It has previously been applied in all sorts of industries as well, such as healthcare, psychotherapy, coaching, government, financial realm, etc.
By seeking to improve standardized procedures and activities, Kaizen aims and effectively manages to, eliminate waste. Where does it come from? Well, as previously mentioned in this blog, Kaizen was first conceived and implemented in Japan after the aftermath of the Second World War—heavily influenced by American businesses and lecturers who visited the country back then. It has since spanned over its initial spectrum of applicability and has spread across the globe and is now being used in unorthodox environments most of which can be found beyond the business world.
So, how to apply the Kaizen approach to reach the state of continuous improvement? When companies and individuals face huge and tough situations, they often crumble inside at the mere of thought of failure. This is what normally leads them to over think and devise a difficult and complicated solution to the issue, or even worse, achieving nothing at all. Fear of failure is real, and it can definitely act as a catalyst for companies and individuals to make solutions more complicated than normal: the mind gets a bit blurry whenever they think of a possible and plausible way to tackle the issue—how to design the solution—. In short: for those who often struggle to design and build easy and achievable solutions to real issues, the good news is, they are not alone.
Today’s landscape has seen the emergence of a reinvention of the term, since Kaizen is now being used in a sheer array of industries: people, or companies, now seem to be fond of breaking things down into smaller parts, and then even much smaller parts, which raises the question: is it possible for people and companies to break an issue down into something so small that can be seamlessly solved? In order to answer that question, it is wise to first take a look at the following six guidelines commonly related with ensuring the aforementioned scenario:
- Asking small questions helps get rid of fear while inspiring creativity.
- Having small thoughts definitely helps develop new skills and healthy habits.
- Small actions are linked with success.
- Taking care of small problems first develops confidence.
- Bestowing small prices and rewards to others help produce much better and sustainable results.
- Being able to recognize the small and crucial moments that often go unnoticed.
Thus, Kaizen, by definition, and after considering the aforementioned guidelines, is rather something that has been essentially developed as a perfect methodology to instance rapid decision-making processes, thusly enabling the possibility to carry out many small, rapid movements towards success. It involves a long-term commitment when it comes to designing and outlining the most suitable small and incremental changes to an already established process, otherwise, Kaizen could not be considered as a method capable of providing continuous improvement over time—and that is, perhaps, the most important part of all this: Kaizen should be conceived for the long-haul.
After a mindset change, and after putting this into practice, companies will realize how achievable it is to match ideas together and thrive. Bear in mind that there will always be room for improvement, and that is the mere essence of Kaizen: it never stops. This is rather a long game where every step aims to provide a much better solution to an already established process in hopes of seamlessly eliminating as much waste as possible without falling victim of premature decisions, fear and lack of expertise: always strive to test, analyze and come up with a much better solution to what is not working.
* Featured Image courtesy of Kaboompics // Karolina at Pexels.com