Kaizen: Japanese 1 Minute Technique For Self-Improvement

Today I am talking about the best Japanese method and technique that will enhance your personal growth.

Image Credits: Google

What Does Kaizen means?

Kaizen is the Sino-Japanese word for “improvement“. For the unversed, ‘Kai‘ means change and ‘Zen‘ stands for wisdom. The Japanese word kaizen means “change for better” in Japanese dictionaries and in regular use, without the underlying sense of either “continuous” or “philosophy.”

It was founded by Masaaki Imai, who believes that this theory can be applied both to businesses and to personal development. It is also applied to enhance management strategies in Japan. In personal life, home life, social life, and working life, it means continuous improvement.

Kaizen Theory

The Kaizen theory is based on the idea that continuous, progressive enhancement leads to meaningful change over time. They circumvent the upheaval, unrest, and mistakes that often go hand-in – hand with major innovation when teams or groups implement Kaizen. Kaizen promotes action by breaking down large, daunting targets into super tiny, discrete bits. Through your baby steps, the tiny accomplishments you encounter feed on each other and start creating some momentum, which leads to larger and bigger action.In order to work better, Kaizen is less about hustle and work, and more about reflective changes, acknowledging disappointment, and implementing learning.

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts”

—John Wooden
kaizen concept
Image Credits: The Slight Edge

What’s more, one of Kaizen’s fundamental beliefs is that there is no magic bullet that can make things better instantly. By incremental, continuing progress, change comes.

Kaizen calmly guides your attention to the mission at hand instead of wasting your time looking for the “one thing” that will change anything and offers this essential reminder:

“You already know what you need to do. Get to work and find small ways to improve along the way.”

What are the Kaizen principles that should be applied?

A commitment to improving efficiency, satisfaction, and waste is underlying the Kaizen approach.Kaizen’s key pillars of continuous improvement include:

  • Standardize a system such that it is repeatable and coherent.
  • Concentrate on measurability and assessing progress using data.
  • Compare performance against your specifications (have you fulfilled your promise?)
  • Innovate new and better ways of achieving similar outcomes
  • Respond to changing circumstances and changing the strategies over time.

Since Kaizen is a philosophy, it’s versatile and adaptable to your working style, tastes, and personality, and not a static framework. Depending on what resonates with you, you can plug-and-play pick activities. Others choose to implement Kaizen 5s approach(Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain).

Three ways of applying the Kaizen theory  at a personal level are:

kaizen examples
Image Credits: Google

We have all got targets. However, whether it’s financial or weight loss, most of them are delayed and end up struggling to achieve our goal. Moving the work to another day is something we do almost daily. Often, with all the excitement and motivation, we begin the mission or any new project towards our target, but after a few steps, we either start thinking we have achieved enough or the passion is no longer there.

One should, however, remember that baby steps are important to accomplish something. So, instead of trying something too quickly and getting bored and leaving it in the center, follow the Japanese Kaizen process.

Founder of the Kaizen concept, Masaaki Imai says, “The message of the Kaizen strategy is that not a day should go by without some kind of improvement being made somewhere.”He also said that for quicker results, one should not do it twice a day. He said, “You can’t do Kaizen once or twice and expect immediate results. You have to be it for the long haul.”

So, what exactly does the process involve? How to implement the Kaizen approach?

Here are three ways you can begin to adopt the Kaizen method right now in your work-life. These tips will help you get there gradually, whether you are trying to be more efficient at the workplace by reducing interruptions or trying to finish a creative project like writing or reading a novel.

1. Determine where your time and energy are wasted.

Waste reduction is one of the fundamental concepts of Kaizen, and it comes into play in more situations than you would expect. Doing less, not more, is a key to unlocking more efficiency.

If you can never find the time to commit to projects that are necessary to you, it is likely that unwanted activities will consume some of your time. Take stock of what it takes you to stop doing. The attentional gaps that permeate our day are often not known to us, so begin by auditing your schedule.

For a few weeks, monitor every job you perform and the time involved. When you have this data pool, decide whether each task is really important or whether you are only working on autopilot. How do you do it easier or quicker by scaling yourself if you decide a job is mission-critical?

2. Ask yourself what small steps you should take to be efficient or more productive.

The trick is to start with bite-sized alterations when you begin to define areas for change. Think minuscule. Our instinct, sometimes, is to go high. If not instantly, then within a week or a month, we get frustrated and want results. But when you know that gradual changes over time are much more likely to stick, it seems increasingly enticing to start small, although it requires patience.

3. Set aside time to analyse what works and what can be enhanced.

We do not take time to analyse what is working and what is not when we get busy. But you need to focus on how things are going for Kaizen to work, particularly when you sense a point of friction.

Benefits of Kaizen

  • Smoother, more effective processes
  • Cleaner, safer workspaces
  • Higher quality products and/or services
  • Lower costs
  • Improved employee morale and engagement
  • Better customer service

Mindset and Continuous Improvement

In short, Kaizen’s aim is to steadily change on a continuous basis. It is also incremental and should be continuous to introduce Kaizen and establish a mentality of ongoing change within an organization.

After setting excessively optimistic resolutions or targets, Kaizen is the antidote to the feelings of disappointment and frustration we encounter only to abandon them a few weeks later. And while Kaizen won’t change your life instantly, bit by bit, it can set important changes into motion.

Before You Go….

If you enjoyed this post, you will love my previous post, which was on “Kintsugi, a representation of Wabi-Sabi philosophy, and is an art of embracing flaws and imperfections!

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