Kaizen: Accomplishing Big Goals with Tiny Steps

KAIZEN - The Japanese Strategy for Continuous Improvement - Making small steps to achieve big goals. Kaizen is a concept referring to business activities that continuously improve all functions.

Kaizen was first practiced in Japanese businesses after World War II, influenced in part by American business and quality-management teachers, and most notably as part of The Toyota Way.

It has since spread throughout the world and has been applied to environments outside business and productivity.

Kaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement.

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen is the Japanese art of relatively small, continuous improvements. This art has been taught and successfully applied at all levels of human functioning, from the lives of individuals to standard practice at multinational corporations.

Why is Kaizen powerful?

There are several reasons Kaizen is extremely powerful:

1. It bypasses the fear response; effectively putting an end to procrastination
2. Changes become habits, and habits produce permanent results
3. Small changes, made continually over time, make huge impacts

Make the task so small, you cannot fail.

By making changes to your life, a procedure or system that are so small you cannot fail, there is no need for procrastination.

For example, if you want to learn a new language, study 1 word a day. If this is still intimidating, just decide to spend 5 minutes looking for a dictionary online.

Make the changes or tasks so easy, you cannot fail. 
Once you’ve mastered these small changes, you can always make them a little more challenging, as long as they’re still so small that you cannot fail.

Point Kaizen

It is one of the most commonly implemented types of Kaizen. It happens very quickly and usually without much planning. As soon as something is found broken or incorrect, quick and immediate measures are taken to correct the issues.

These measures are generally small, isolated and easy to implement, however they can have a huge impact.

How can I apply Kaizen in my life?

The possibilities for application are endless, but here are a few questions that may help direct the process:

  •     What result would you like to get?
  •     What behaviors do you need to master to get that result?
  •     What’s the biggest little thing you could do to start forming one of these behaviors?

Remember, your changes should be so small that you cannot possibly fail!