What in the world is Kaizen?

Recently I had a friend tell me, unsolicited, that I needed to consider a complete makeover…hair, dress, make-up, and an overall updating of my appearance, given that I was growing older. After the initial hurt feelings, I began to wonder if she was not only right, it also led me to consider what other areas beyond just my appearance may need a complete overhaul as well.

Whew! Looking in the mirror is not always easy. Yet, one thing I sincerely believe is that in order for us to continue to learn, excel, ultimately succeed and grow into alignment, we have to take a hard look at what is working and what is not – whether this be in our personal lives or our professional endeavors.

Most successful individuals and businesses embody and remain committed to the principle represented by the Japanese word kaizen,which means “never ending improvement”.  This principle is typically used in reference to improvement of processes in business. Kaizen encourages us that even when things are going well, successful companies strive diligently and obsessively to improve themselves. The five primary components of kaizen include:

  • Teamwork
  • Personal discipline
  • Improved morale
  • Quality circles
  • Suggestions for improvement

I believe this principle can be applied not only to our companies and organizations, but also to ourselves, as individuals and leaders. Even when certain aspects of our lives, careers and businesses are thriving, this does not mean that everything is running on all cylinders. There is always room for improvement.

We can surround ourselves with support systems (teamwork) to help us whether this by our physical trainers for staying healthy and in shape, our teachers, and our friends. We can embrace a personal discipline and constitution for taking care of ourselves and growing in our respective fields. We can join Mastermind groups and surround ourselves with professionals who will challenge us and serve as our quality circle for our respective endeavors. And yes, we can remain open and receptive to suggestions for improvement.

Sure, to be perfectly honest, the feedback received was hard to hear; and yet, to not take it to heart and embrace it with the spirit in which it was intended does not serve me. As we know, alignment within ourselves and our organizations is a journey, not a finite destination. Thus, forward momentum is the ultimate call to action. The ongoing quest for continuous improvement, or kaizen, has served Japan well through their evolution. What do we have to lose? In what areas can you or your team improve? What is holding us back?

One last bit for those of you who have asked me about new summer reading suggestions, you may go to the Alignment Library for a diverse list of updated suggestions. And you my simply click on the book title and it will allow you to buy directly from Amazon. Enjoy!