What is Kaizen and its principles?
Before understanding KAIZEN principles, Let us first understand the meaning of the term KAIZEN. Kaizen is a term that refers to on-going or continuous improvement. The definition of kaizen comes from two Japanese words: ‘kai’ meaning ‘change’ and ‘zen’ meaning ‘good’. Therefore, KAIZEN means, “Change for Good”.
Kaizen is an approach based on common sense, self-discipline, order, and economy. Kaizen method is a strong contributor and fundamental part of a lean production process model in lean manufacturing.
History of KAIZEN and its principles
Kaizen began after World War II, when Toyota enacted “quality circles” in its production process. These quality circles consisted of a group of employees who were performing similar tasks. They gathered together on a regular basis to talk about problems related to work and offer possible solutions.
Principles of KAIZEN and application in improving personal Life:
Generally Corporate and Manufacturing Units apply the principles of KAIZEN. However we can apply the same principles in personal Life also. So, today we will learn how we can apply principles of KAIZEN in improving our personal life.
We are going to analyze 10 principles of KAIZEN and its applicability in improving our personal Life.
First principle of KAIZEN, Continuous improvement:
This is a very simple principle, which says, “We all have areas of improvement area in our life, no matter how successful we are”.
We can make our life easy by making small – small improvements in our daily routines. Learn new skills, language, any art or anything, which you have interest in.
“The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement” – Helmut Schmidt.
Upgrade or eliminate old practices:
“Like gadgets and Apps, we need to constantly come up with newer versions of ourselves else we will become outdated.” ©
This principle talks about eliminating old ways of doing things. The way the entire world is progressing so fast, we should also adapt to new things, new methods of doing things and get rid of old and redundant methods.
Accept no excuses and make things happen:
It is very important that in the process of improvement, excuses should not come as hurdles. Moreover, You may encounter some failures in the process of improvement, but that failure should not become an excuse for not improving.
“Make an effort, not an excuse”.
Caveats of new Methods:
This principle says, just because a method is new it does not mean that it is an improved one. One cannot follow a new method blindly. Therefore, we need to do trial and error and test it properly before it becomes useful for us.
One more point here “Just because something worked for someone, does not guarantee that that will work for you as well”
Correction is required for improvement:
Once the trial and error is done, we need to make corrections to the methods to make it suitable for us, so that it can improve our life.
You need to recognize the areas in your life that can be improved, and make relevant corrections.
Empower everyone to take part in problem solving:
This principle says we should take advice and suggestions from our friends and relatives to solve a problem, so that we can get benefits from their experience also. However, for this principle please keep in mind principle number four.
Get information and opinions from multiple people:
This principle of KAIZEN says, before implementing any idea or an improvement, one should talk to several people to get their inputs. This will give you a different perspective that will open up more ideas for you and chances of success will increase.
In addition, Learn from other people and get some new ideas on things you can add to your routine to create continuous improvement.
“Five why” rule of decision-making:
This principle is for Cause and Effect analysis. Five whys is an iterative interrogative technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why?” Each answer forms the basis of the next question (the next why).
Improvement should be economical:
“Money saved is money earned”.
In the process of improvement, we need to see the ways to save money by making small changes in the process and then spend the money saved on further improvement.
Last principle of KAIZEN, Improvement has no limit:
Remember that improvement has no limits. So, never stop trying to improve. You can always improve yourself. Whether it is learning something new or perfecting a skill you already have, there is room for improvement in everyone’s life.
Few of my other post on self-improvement topic: