Kaizen: what is it and how to apply it?
Be better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today. This is the basis for starting to explain to you what Kaizen is, after all, it’s closely related to continuous improvement.
All of these factors together have contributed to the kaizen method becoming increasingly widespread within organizations, regardless of their dimension. At this point, many people have come across this term for the first time, others even know a little but do not really know what it means and where it came from.
What is Kaizen?
In Japanese, Kaizen means continuous improvement. This word suggests an improvement that involves everyone, managers and workers, inferring also the meaning of low expenses. The Kaizen philosophy suggests that our way of life, both in the professional and personal environment, should be focused on a constant effort to improve.
This is the best definition of Kaizen as it covers everything that Kaizen addresses. But if you want more definitions, Kaizen is: teach people to have resources; a culture of continuous improvement; pursue a goal; knowledge transfer; know when to eliminate, reduce or change an activity.
Where did the Kaizen concept come from?
The emergence of this concept came from necessity! That’s right, after World War II, Japan was devastated without resources and had to find a way to compete with big brands, such as Ford.
That’s where the Kaizen methodology of continuous improvement was born. Producing more using less would only be possible through improvement processes, so Japanese companies started to work always thinking about the quality of the process.
Kaizen: 3 simple rules
1. Learn through practice
The fundamentals of Kaizen presuppose a number of changes in your life, so you should dedicate about 50% of your day to the process of improvement. This will be a practice that will not only benefit you but also all those who interact with you both professionally and socially.
Learning in practice is also learning from mistakes and knowing how to assume them intelligently as a form of constant improvement.
2. All waste must be disposed of
Basically, Kaizen’s ideology means eliminating all the kind of wastes that don’t have any value to the process of your improvement. In other simpler words, it’s an optimization of your time and resources. And how can you do that? One example is simply not giving in to the 4 pillars of inertia: instant gratification, fear, lack of consequences and false expectations.
3. Must be applied everyday, anywhere
What counts for Kaizen philosophy is your integration into all the fields in which you operate in everyday life. Whether you are at home, at work, playing some sports, the principle is very clear: continuous improvement.
How to apply Kaizen in your life?
Kaizen is very much tied to business, process and profit reality. But what if we took the idea of this philosophy and applied it into our lives?
- Think about that area of your life that bothers you most today. That area where you feel you need to change, make improvements but you don’t even know where to start;
- Now think of a small improvement you can make in this area; little improvement. Don’t think of anything grand or very complicated. What ant step you can take from now on to get this area of your life closer to where you want it?;
- As soon as you have done that, think of another little bird and then another little one, and another one, and another one (…).
The biggest secret of Kaizen is discipline. It’s something that must be done every day. The constancy that brings the results you crave. Remembering that Kaizen is the idea of constant improvement. And that this must happen gradually and simply.
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