The Japanese word kaizen simply means “change for better”, with no inherent meaning of either “continuous” or “philosophy” in Japanese dictionaries or in everyday use. The word refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small, in the same sense as the English word “improvement”.
Work is about getting things done. The best way improve productivity is to practice Kaizen. It’s that simple. One step at a time.
Kaizen is a word that roughly translates into “slow improvement”. It is a perfect method to use to perfect a process and begin the practice of continuous improvement. It makes tasks easier and more effective. Isn’t that what a good productivity system is meant to do?
Here are the three key steps to use Kaizen to improve productivity.
1. Break It Down Into Smaller Tasks
Regardless of what you have to do, small or large the best way to get it done is to break it down into smaller more manageable tasks.
Putting It Into Practice
Let’s say your task is to paint a room. You don’t start by grabbing your paint and roller and hit the walls. You have to break the goal of painting the room down into small steps. Here is a short task list that breaks down the goal into small steps.
- Select the color you want to paint the room
- Buy the paint and supplies you will need
- Remove everything from the room and clean it
- Prepare the room for work
- Fix any areas on the walls that need it
- Prepare the room for painting
- Paint one wall at a time, one section at a time
- Let the paint dry then clean up the room
- Place everything back in the room
- Task completed
2. Eliminate Waste
Another principle of Kaizen is to eliminate waste wherever you find it. You do this by reviewing a process and asking yourself “is this step needed”. If the answer is no then eliminate it. If the answer is yes the ask yourself “can it be improved”.
You can improve your productivity by eliminating Muda or waste. Using the painting example you will examine each step and look for waste. Waste of time, motion, unnecessary steps and other forms of Muda.
3. Continuous Improvement
Everything can be improved. From the simplest to the most complex you should always be looking to improve the processes of how you get things done. From personal productivity to departmental productivity, it all can be improved.
Take the example of painting a room. Each time you paint a room you may learn a better way to complete one of the tasks. You refine your process to include the improvement. These refinements will improve your productivity.
Why Kaizen Will Improve Productivity
This method can be applied to any task, goal or initiative you have to do. It is simple and effective.
- Smaller tasks are more manageable, easier to plan for and allocate time for.
- Each task you complete is an achievement which is encouragement that you are achieving your ultimate goal.
- This method eliminates waste which will improve productivity.
- Using continuous improvement you will improve the process.
- It is simple to use, simple to plan for and easy to follow.