Kaizen is a productivity improvement process developed in Japan and made popular for its use by large manufacturers like Toyota. Kaizen is the art of making great and lasting change through small steady improvements. When applied to personal development and life mastery it is the process of consistently making small changes, or new habits, in an area of desired improvement.
“The journey of a thousand miles beings with a single step.”
Tae Te Ching
Kaizen is a productivity process that humanizes all levels of the workforce, eliminates overly hard work, teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method, and how to spot and eliminate waste in business. When we apply similar processes to our personal lives it takes the form of creating small habits and may be referred to as Personal Kaizen.
As I start to apply the Kaizen Activities to Personal Development I have come up with the below chart.
|Cycle of Kaizen Activity||Cycle of PERSONAL Kaizen Activity|
|Standardize an Operation or Activity||Standardize Routines|
|Measure the Standardized Operation||Set or Review Goals|
|Gauge Measurements against Requirements||Measure Progress Towards Goals|
|Innovate to Meet Requirements & Increase Productivity||Consider New Ideas and Ways to Effectively Achieve Goals|
|Standardize the New, Improved Operations||Create a New Habit|
|Continue Cycle||Start the Process All Over Again|
As we go through life we create routines and habits and we do what works well enough for us. Eventually something breaks down or changes and we need to look at what we are attempting to accomplish or we are goal setters-and-getters and we decide to set or review our goals. We evaluate how things are working and/or measure our progress towards the goal and typically decide on new things to try or changes to make that seem like they would get us to what we want quicker, more efficiently, or with greater impact. We try out that new habit or change for a while and standardize it into a routine if it works for us. Then eventually something breaks down or changes and we need to look at what we are attempting to accomplish or we are goal setters-and-getters and we decide to set or review our goals…see how this cycle keeps going around?
From what I understand about Kaizen this is typically a 2 week cycle, however for personal development there is a general understanding that creating a new habit is a 21-day process (sometimes longer depending on the habit). My theory of creating a new habit that supports your life and goals every 30-days, or each month, seems to align nicely with the manufacturing theory of Kaizen. Small consistent changes lead to consistent improvement.
“The process of incorporating small changes on a consistent manner nearly eliminates ones inherent fear of change while fueling ones inherent desire to make things better.”
In the corporate world change in inevitable. Large and small change is a fascinating event to observe, although can be difficult to go through. There is a bonding of those affected by change, when the corporate world I work in went through a massive re-org a few years ago our team gathered for lunch more often and talked about what we could do together if we were collectively out of a job. It was a great thing to be a part of, those lunches and conversations served as band aids for our fears. The band aid hid the severity, but everyone knew there was a wound in that spot. A big down side to corporate change is productivity was almost non-existent. Our thoughts were not on making world class product and when I could focus my phone would ring or someone would need to talk. The fear of change was undeniable.
The same can happen in our personal lives…change happens. When it is desired change like our child being accepted into the college of their choice, or undesired change like the loss of a job, or making necessary change that could bring us closer to a goal there is often at least a slight bit of anxiety. Facing that change and reducing the anxiety can be a challenge. However, if we were to learn from the manufacturing technique of Kaizen, “good change”, we can incorporate change for the better with one small step at a time, measure its effectiveness, then try another small, but seemingly effective improvement.
We can often get overwhelmed with some of the goals we set for ourselves. We want them, but where to start and the change it might create can overwhelm us and prevent us from taking any real action. However, when we reduce the change to a small simple new habit that will lead to sustainable change that supports our goal the fear of change is practically eliminated.
New habits are small, single faceted, consistent actions that support a goal or other improvement we want to make in life. Personal Kaizen is the process of improving life and learning new skills by creating small, single-faceted, consistent actions (or new habits) consistently.
Habit Creation Assignment:
Create a Personal Kaizen List. Make a list of areas you want to improve or skills you want to obtain. You can keep this to ways to Mindfully Live in the Moment or open it up to other areas you want to improve or skills you want to learn.
Once you have the areas or skills targeted ask yourself a series of questions for each one:
- How can I _______________ ?
- If __________________ were my first priority, what would I be doing differently today?
- What’s the smallest step I can take to be _______________________ ?
Today create your Personal Kaizen List and answer the Series of Questions for each. This will get your conscious and subconscious mind considering more information for this month’s new habit to create.
Today I am going to venture off the Living in the Moment Tips to another area of my life I would like to see improvement. I would like to a prolific writer who creates transformational personal development content for a book and other products.
How can I become a prolific writer who creates transformational personal development content for a book and other products?
(1) Continue to blog consistently.
(2) Find ways to get more feedback.
(3) Remain curious about topics
(4) Tap into what I know, my experiences, and my insights.
(5) Further develop the 30-day focus to include teleconference meetings with readers and other experts on the topics of the month.
If being a prolific writer who creates transformational personal development content for a book and other products were my first priority, what would I be doing differently today?
(1) I would watch less tv
(2) I would write consistently during the most productive hours of my day.
(3) I would strategize and plan more.
(4) I would reach out to experts and create a forum for them to share their knowledge.
(5) I would prioritize being a writer and content creator.
What’s the smallest step I can take to be a prolific writer who creates transformational personal development content for a book and other products?
(1) I can consistently write.
(2) I can start contacting experts.
(3) I can spend 20 minutes each day strategizing and planning.
(4) I can spend 20 minutes each day marketing my blog.
(5) I can focus my efforts.
You know I share these exercises I find, adapt or create, but until I actually do them for myself I am unaware of their full power. This is another great exercise to get us to think and tap into the fire of our passion.