kaizen, continual improvement
Kaizen has for me, become a way of life, a core principle. It has made me better, more efficient, and more productive. I have used it in my coaching practice with clients and seen huge results when it is instituted properly. For some it is a better way to improve profits, for some to decrease waste... but what is it?

3000 ideas per day... or better yet, one million ideas per year is the amount of new ideas that Toyota implements per year. This explains why Toyota seems to be on a different playing field of their own. The truth is it is not about the cars. It is all about the ideas and the people with those ideas. Kaizen is all about small ideas, small improvements. These are not necessarily touchdowns after a 99-yard run but 2.5 yards every play over and over again to win the game. It is born of excellence.

Althought Toyota in today's view is not the most positive because of some of the recent safety issues, they led the way for many years. Why is Toyota worth almost as much as all the auto builders combined? The human element, the one resource that is the pinnacle of human creativity and participation. This pursuit of excellence is almost a taste of blood for perfection. The true meaning of Kaizen - continuous improvement. How does a guy, after World War II, W. Edwards Deming, change Japan and make them a leader of proficiency? Through the eyes of the ant, small but powerful workers that are all doing their own part to make the entire culture the most synergistic machine possible. The synergy that says the sum is greater than any measurement of the individuals.

The following information is also available more thoroughly here
Kaizen mindset rules. Every company employee is encouraged to come up with ideas – however small – that could improve his/her particular job activity, job environment or any company process for that matter. The employees are also encouraged to implement their ideas as small changes can be done by the worker him or herself with very little investment of time.

Quick and Easy Kaizen helps eliminate or reduce wastes, promotes personal growth of employees and the company, provides guidance for employees, and serves as a barometer of leadership. Each Kaizen may be small, but the cumulative effect is tremendous.

In simpler terms... good enough never is!

For the long definition of Kaizen with a little more of it's history click HERE.
What happens when someone fails by less than they use to, does it get noticed? If someone use to be consistently 30 minutes late each day and now they are only 15 minutes late do they get recognized for their 50% improvement? What about that person who makes everyone mad, but now only makes 25% of the people mad, does she get recognition for the 75% improvement?

Often times we notice those who have swam the ocean, ran across the country, or done a triple backflip summersault off a 2-story vault but fail to notice those who are failing by less. Is not kaizen about small improvements over time? 

Most managers admit they have a tough time viewing degrees of less failure as an achievement. Furthermore, if they do notice and want to say something they do not know how to say it without sounding condescending, sarcastic, or embarrassed. 

Goals do not work. Yes that statement  is severely ambiguous. No this is not an 'off-the-charts' failure rate of all the popular trends of New Year's Resolutions post. Yes this is a true statement. No this is not a bait and switch line.

If you are a goal setter and push yourself to stay motivated then you need to read this. If you do not have any pressing goals and/or do not have any life goals you also need to read this. Maybe you stopped making goals because they stopped working, then you need to read this. The image to the right is the typical step plan to reach a goal, however sometimes it just simply does not work. Believe me --> Goals don't work.

In studying this topic, I have found three reasons most goals, or goal setting does not work...

always be closing
The following is an excerpt of a blog from a great friend of mine discussing some things we should all be doing, always, enjoy...

Provided courtesy of Chris Conrey:

Everyone knows the old salesman maxim: Always Be Closing. Made famous by Alec Baldwin’s Glengarry Glen Ross performance (watch here – some foul language) which has been shown in 20% of sales meetings across the world since the movie’s release in 1992 – any professional salesperson has heard this term approximately 4,576,861 times over the course of their career.

But there are other things you should always be doing.
  • Always Be Learning – get better at something every day. Read books, blogs, magazines, anything. Put what you learn into practice. Try something new.
  • Always Be Giving – I spent a week away on a business trip, then launched right into volunteering my time for WordCamp Phoenix this weekend. Sure the easy choice would be to sit at home with my girls and rest, but I wanted to support a great organization who has helped a ton of people learn about and use WordPress.
  • Always Be Listening – you never know when you may hear someone who has a problem you can solve. I was in a certification class this past week and overheard people a table over from mine talking about all sorts of development and agile culture problems. Oddly enough, those are the problems we solve at Integrum. Made for a nice way to intro myself and add a lead to my pipeline.
Read the other 9 things that we should always be doing HERE.

 The original kanji characters for the word kaizen are:  
In Japanese this is pronounced "kaizen"
改 ("kai") means "change" or "the action to correct".
善 ("zen") means "good".

In Korean this is pronounced "ge sun"
改善 ("ge sun") means "improvement" or "change for the better"

In Chinese this is pronounced "gai shan":
改善 ("gǎi shàn") means "change for the better" or "improve".
改 ("gǎi") means "change" or "the action to correct".
善 ("shàn") means "good" or "benefit". 

Kaizen means simply "improvement" in Japanese.  Kaizen strategy calls for never-ending efforts for improvement involving everyone in the organization. When used inside an organization properly, everyone from the CEO to the janitor, even external stakeholders can participate in the continuous improvement.

A main difference culturally is in the western continents, such as USA, Americans are very motivated by monetary gains when it comes to achievements. In the east it is much different. Involvement in something bigger, making a difference, and being noticed for achievements is more meaningful. For instance many companies incorporate kaizen very purposely. 
Quick and Easy Kaizen helps eliminate or reduce wastes, promotes personal growth of employees and the company, provides guidance for employees, and serves as a barometer of leadership. Each Kaizen may be small, but the cumulative effect is tremendous.

Quick and easy Kaizen empowers employees, enriches the work experience and brings out the best in every person. It improves quality, safety, cost structures, delivery, environments, throughput and customer service.

The Process
The Quick and Easy Kaizen process works as follows:

  1. The employee identifies a problem, waste, or an opportunity for improvement and writes it down.
  2. The employee develops an improvement idea and discusses it with his or her supervisor.
  3. The supervisor reviews the idea within 24 hours and encourages immediate action.
  4. The employee implements the idea. If a larger improvement idea is approved, the employee should take leadership to implement the idea.
  5. The idea is written up on a simple form in less than three minutes.
  6. Supervisor posts the form to share with and stimulate others and recognizes the accomplishment. 

Three Key Characteristics
  1. Permanent method changes. Change the method. Once the change is made, you can’t go back to the old way of doing things.
  2. Continuous flow of small ideas. The smaller ideas, the better. Kaizen is small ideas. Innovation takes time and is costly to implement, but kaizen is just day-to-day small improvements that when added together represent both enormous savings for the company and enormous self-esteem for the worker.
  3. Immediate local implementation. Be realistic. Kaizen is done within realist or practical constraints. 

 Source of Information: Japan Human Relations Association
The Japan Human Relations Association (JHRA) is leading the quick and easy kaizen efforts throughout Japan with its training programs, workshops, and publications. JHRA only promotes quick and easy kaizen. They dropped all of the other HR functions for they believe that quick and easy kaizen is the best way to develop human resources within a company.

kaizen, plan, do, check, act, pdac
A diagram to show the two PDCA cycles. The first cycle is Plan, Do, Check and Act, while the second cycle is a sub-set of the "Do" part, containing Problem Finding, Display, Clear and Acknowledge. These are part of the kaizen method of quality control, and also is used in the Toyota Way.
After WWII, to help restore Japan, American occupation forces brought in American experts to help with the rebuilding of Japanese industry. The Civil Communications Section (CCS) developed a Management Training Program that taught statistical control methods as part of the overall material. This course was developed and taught by Homer Sarasohn and Charles Protzman in 1949-50. Sarasohn recommended W. Edwards Deming for further training in Statistical Methods.

The Economic and Scientific Section (ESS) group was also tasked with improving Japanese management skills and Edgar McVoy was instrumental in bringing Lowell Mellen to Japan to properly install the Training Within Industry (TWI) programs in 1951.

Prior to the arrival of Mellen in 1951, the ESS group had a training film to introduce the three TWI "J" programs (Job Instruction, Job Methods and Job Relations)---the film was titled "Improvement in 4 Steps" (Kaizen eno Yon Dankai). Thus the original introduction of "Kaizen" to Japan. For the pioneering, introduction, and implementation of Kaizen in Japan, the Emperor of Japan awarded the 2nd Order Medal of the Sacred Treasure to Dr. Deming in 1960. Consequently, the Union of Japanese Science and Engineering (JUSE) instituted the annual Deming Prizes for achievement in quality and dependability of products.

On October 18, 1989, JUSE awarded the Deming Prize to Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL), based in the US, for its exceptional accomplishments in process and quality control management. FPL was the first company outside Japan to win the Deming Prize.

  • Liker, J. K., & Meier, D. (2006).The Toyota way fieldbook: a practical guide for implementing Toyota's 4Ps. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Japan Human Relations Association
  • US National Archives - SCAP collection - PR NewsWire

mind the gap
In one of my recent grad projects we had to identify several gaps within our organization. Once identified came the task of trying to figure out the root cause. After knowing the cause the next process was to lay out a plan on how to fix the initiatives. Then the final task of the project was to point out any resistance to the initiatives.

What is tough is not identifying the gaps. We are good at that. We are great at looking at the flaws of a system, item, or process, and sometimes we are even good at exploiting those gaps to help out our own cause. However most of the times we do not...

As I have eluded to in previous posts as well as particular Twitters I began my Masters this week in residency at Evangel University, Springfield, MO. I am realizing the difference between the work load and knowledge level when I received my AA in Architectural Design & CAD as well as my BA in Pastoral Ministries to a Masters level education. That coupled with the experience of being a hybrid experience, (Hybrid means, I fly out twice a year for a week of classes, professor introductions, class introductions, etc.) then the rest is distance study at home makes this a very overwhelming jump start.

Though this still is insurmountable in my mind...

analyze versus criticize
I have a friend(s), and I am sure you do to... hopefully you are not that friend, who is very critical. This type of person looks at the negative in people and then feels the option to talk openly to me about all the flaws of that individual. When I meet with this person(s) I generally find myself looking for the opportunity to apply a different style approach to the perspective he is sharing. The great thing is this person(s) is open to listening, some person(s) aren't, don't be that friend that isn't open. The approach I apply is analyzing. So what is the difference? The difference is as big as it is small.

The largest concept that has taught me the most in life is learning to...

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