Applying kaizen principles, is the mindset of improving continuously. Toyota internalized this mindset within their culture. Which is a big reason Toyota is the most successful auto company in the world right now. Their attention to small details resulted in numerous fewer defects than the competition. To stress the point even further, Toyota and General Motors set up a joint venture in Oakland, CA to reopen an old plant. It turns out that joint venture produced far fewer defects than GM’s newest plants. It wasn’t the technology; it was the attention to fixing the small things that paid off.
The kaizen principles from a management perspective are composed of the following:
So, how can you apply this at a personal level? Realize most changes worth making usually don’t happen overnight. Instead, we can chunk it down to small steps, ideally on a daily basis, which makes habit-forming easier. Think of it this way, if you were to just improve something just .5% everyday, at the end of the year you would theoretically have over 150% improvement!
The reason that kaizen works is because ANY one of us can make small improvements, which are very achievable. It gives you a sense of certainty, which builds your confidence and power to changeconsciously in other areas of your life. So, go ahead and learn ONE new word a day, one new small piece of technology, get up 1 minute earlier, or write one page a day (how do you think this website gets complete?!). I promise you it will add up before you know it!
To make kaizen work for you, I have 2 suggestions, especially when you are tackling a relatively large change.
The first suggestion is, tracking your progress. This is stated under the principle #3 listed above. It allows you to see, and build momentum in the direction you wish to go. I personally use a scoreboard and a journal to help me see the progress I am making (or lack thereof!).
The second is to create the environment to support your change.For example, when you are trying to write a book, you need to quiet environment or when establishing “good” eating habits, have the junk food in your kitchen makes it far more difficult your goals. So, be conscious about the atmosphere you need to make kaizen work for you.
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