Do you know the story about burnt toast? What are you going to do if your making toast process results in an unacceptable (or: uneatable) slice of toast? Would you put another slice on and try it once again? Scrape the toast to make it eatable? Complain to the canteen staff? Would it not be much simpler for you just to fix the settings on the toaster? If your answer is close to “yes”, then welcome to the club and let me introduce a concept named kaizen.
Kaizen is a Japanese word standing for “continuous improvement” or “change for the better”. In fact, it is possible to make things better – with small steps but systematically and continuously. In fact, kaizen is a very universal approach and refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, supporting business processes, and management. It has been applied in many industries, such as: healthcare, psychotherapy, life-coaching, government, banking, and many other.
But… How to start? That is also as simple as the concept itself. Here you have 10 commandments of kaizen:
1. Be open-minded – just open your mind to change
2. Think big – Think “Yes we can!” – That does not have to be used only in political campaigns, just feel free to use it!
3. Always analyze processes and customers – never attack your people
4. Seek simple solutions (you know the KISS concept: Keep It Short and Simple, don’t you?)
5. Stop to fix it if it is broken – doesn’t matter what it is – if it is broken, it really costs to fix it
6. Use creativity – not capital (think about the success of Apple – innovations make this company successful)
7. Problems are opportunities – think positive and perceive the problems you have as challenges
8. Find the root cause (use 7W-questions, as follows: What? Who? Which way? Why? When? Where? Why so?)
9. Use the wisdom of many – not just the knowledge of one (make the use of synergies: a group of 2 or more people can achieve much more then the same people acting individual)
10. There is no final destination on the improvement journey – as there is always something which can be improved.
That is a short and easy reference how to do kaizen. Maybe a small additional remark: Do it every day. Only continuous daily practice makes kaizen activities successful. In fact, that is not the talent – but many hours of work or training which make the master.