Kaizen is a combination of two Japanese words, 改 (“kai”) which means “change” and 善 (“zen”) which means “for better.” Put together, Kaizen indicates “change for better”. It has been translated universally as “continuous improvement”. It signifies the possibility of change through slow, incremental constant steps, creating impressive quality improvements in business and manufacturing processes, as well as in our personal life. Once we know how to use kaizen in our personal life, we can use the same steps in our businesses to increase our productivity.
Kaizen’s concepts are real simple, yet it takes discipline, consistency and determination to successfully adapt them to our business and personal life. These concepts can also be used when creating your business plan.
The Kaizen steps are summarized as follows:
- Make changes through small improvements that are easier to stick with. This is where most people fail in attaining their goals. They do not break their goals into smaller tasks that can easily be done. As each goal is finished, you can continue with the next one, then the next one until the whole goal is fulfilled.
- Eliminate waste. You will probably identify redundant actions as you move to each small steps. These redundancies are a waste of time and effort, so eliminate them.
- Monitor results and adjust, as appropriate. As you go through steps 1 and 2, you have the ability to adjust the results, especially if the actions are not giving you your intended results.
- Standardize best practices. Once you identified actions that give you consistent desired results, you can keep them or re-used them for a similar project or goal.
- Reward accomplishments. This is the best part of Kaizen. Make sure you celebrate your success and reward yourself for a job well done.
You probably have been doing #1 – break the change (or goal) into simple steps. However, it does not stop there. We have to be committed to moving forward to the next step until we finally achieve our goal or the change we want.
On the road to our goal, we need to check our progress, discard the unnecessary, repeat our steps (standardize) and finally give ourselves a reward at the end of each finished step. The reward does not have to be expensive. Usually, if people are motivated because of the expensive reward, the motivation disappears after they receive the reward. Small rewards, even patting yourself on the back, are more effective motivators to push yourself forward.