Kaizen Technique for Personal Development
Human are prone to have improvements into them naturally. We always dream about to get our lives changed dramatically. There are many methods, theories, practices , implementations to change our lives. Kaizen Technique is also one of them. This technique has adapted by many business in the world. This is Japanese technique. “KAIZEN” means “change for the better”, “Continuous Improvement” or practices that focus upon continuous improvement.
Kaizen Technique is created after WORLD WAR 2. Masaaki Imai is considered the father of Kaizen after releasing the book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success. Japanese companies like TOYOTA and CANON implemented this technique. KAIZEN is not about Managers getting together once in month for discussion. Kaizen involves everybody in the process. To implement KAIZEN and achieve growth these companies involved their employees. Many suggestions and improvement ideas are grabbed from all possible employees and only useful suggestions and ideas got implemented.
Kai = Change
Zen = Good
Kai + Zen = Good change, generally interpreted as “improvement”
Simple, Yet Effective
Big Change –> Fear –> Fight-or-Flight –> Brain functions blocked –> failure
Small Change –> Minimal fear –> Brain is content –> success
Principles of Kaizen
Kaizen technique is basically developed for mass production line. Here are some basic principle which implements Kaizen at some extent.
Jon is a hard working programmer and father of two. His job requires him to be a morning person even though he’d rather program all through the night. Through college he learned the benefits of caffeine. At first he was only drinking one or two cups a day, but after a few months, he was drinking three or four cups a day to compensate for his increased caffeine tolerance to help him work into the late hours. After 8 long years and he has decided it’s time to give it up because he can’t stand the ‘down’ he gets after the caffeine wears off.
Jon decides that come next Monday, he is going to quit. He has been building it up in his mind all week and he is excited for this new change.
Monday morning arrives and he feels great after a full night of sleep! By 11am, his brain is saying ‘WT*? Something is missing here’, and he starts to feel exhausted and can’t concentrate. He would love to get a cup of joe at this time, but NO, he is going to hold strong. He struggles through the workday, but survives. He makes it home to his kids and doesn’t have energy to entertain or cook so he gives the kids pop tarts for dinner and relaxes on the sofa. He believes he just needs to survive a few days and he’ll be good to go.
He’s been exhausted all day, but as he finally pulls the sheets up to his chin, the barrage of headaches commence. The headaches lasted all night and he only slept a few hours.
6 am. Can’t sleep, he takes his first sip of coffee. The headache dissipates and as he is able to think again he realize that this was not the right way to do this.
Jon lasted one day. Big changes are unpleasant and our brain quickly learns to avoid them. Jon quickly learned that his brain wasn’t willing to give up caffeine that easily
Kaizen Goal and Steps
Notice how you start and end with ‘reviewing’? Be constantly aware of your status as well as where you want to be, and always verifying that you have made a change for the better.
A couple of guidelines to follow:
1. Accepting that one way is the correct way, because it has always been done that way.
2. Believing there is only one way to do something correctly.
3. There is no room for improvement.
4. Working alone is most effective.
Here is a more kaizen way for quitting caffeine (for Jon):
Review : I realize that drinking excessive caffeine can possibly have a negative impact on my brain and life (dehydration, blocked mental processes, trouble sleeping, habit forming, etc).
Validate: I drink 4 cups of coffee a day. I think I may be addicted because I’ve tried to quit several times.
Plan: Well, it won’t be easy so I’ll make a plan. I’m going to drink one less cup per day each week for the first month. Then, I’m going to switch to non-caffeinated and still have my nice warm cup of joe in the morning. If I need a little caffeine, I’ll drink caffeinated tea for the second month. Third month, I’ll drink caffeine-free tea or coffee.
Destroy Limiting Beliefs: I know I can do this. I know it is better for me and I’ll be able to think more clearly, wake up feeling energized, and save a few dollars each day.
Act: I’ll begin on Monday!
Review: Review progress each week (or day) and evaluate how I feel about each change. Do I need to make a slower change? Do I feel comfortable making these changes?
Going through these six steps keeps you conscious of your goals and your current status. When you make a plan, stick to to it and don’t decide to speed it up, but it IS okay to slow it down.
* Side note: Write your goals and plans down! Make sure you can see them at least twice a day!