Eastern philosophy has given us many things to strive for in our lives and workplace like minimalism, self-awareness and meditation. But there’s one practice that’s been around for some time, but starting to grow traction in offices, and it has the power to improve so many little things.
Kaizen, translated as, “continuous improvement,” or, “change for better”, is the Japanese practice of making small, incremental changes rather than large impactful ones that can stir cultures and be at a cost to companies.
I first heard about this practice from my sister when she started her career out of college doing supply chain management. Her company regularly practices intense kaizens about once a quarter to help improve their manufacturing line’s production and management. They even fly in a sensai from Japan to oversee the work being done to improve their workplace.
But a kaizen doesn’t have to be such an authentic or nerve-racking experience. According to Tutor2u, there are several key features of true kaizen that you could begin thinking about today:
- Ideas should come from the workers doing these jobs as the ideas are less likely to be very different, and therefore easier to be implemented. Plus, you’re leveraging the talents of your own colleagues too, so you’re not spending money on expensive consultants or equipment to tell you how to run your business.
- Smaller improvements are less likely to require major investments as opposed to major process changes.
- All employees should strive for ways to improve their own performance and adopt healthier, productive habits.
- It should encourage workers to take ownership for their work and can reinforce team collaboration, which improves worker motivation.
Before you get going though, you’ll want to get a look at your work. Another aspect of a proper kaizen is creating a visual representation to help organize your thoughts. KaizenWorld.com broke down the 5S’s for this:
- Sort – Get rid of all unnecessary things in the way
- Set in order – Organize everything necessary for your work
- Shine – Inspect your work for any flaws
- Standardize – Make the rules so others can follow
- Sustain – Ensure adoption and habitual use
If you’re interested in getting yourself or colleagues started on the road to kaizen, there’s an institute in the U.S. that can train you from beginner to full on “kaizener”.
Would you take the steps to incorporate kaizen into your workplace?