Friday, April 03, 2009

Spring - Think. Change. Grow.

Spring is in the air. A new leaf, a blossom blooming and so on...

"The first day of spring was once the time for taking the young virgins into the fields, there in dalliance to set an example in fertility for nature to follow. Now we just set the clocks an hour ahead and change the oil in the crankcase." ~E.B.
White, "Hot Weather," One Man's Meat, 1944

Kaizen Kanji

Every 90 days we reevaluate our business plan and 4 key areas in which we aim to continue improving. Many companies and individuals can use the momentum of spring as an excuse to revisit their goals and make sure that they're on track. I talked about 'Kaizen' in an earlier newsletter and thought I'd touch on it again here as the timing seems right. Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia.

Kaizen is a daily activity, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is also a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work ("muri"), and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method and how to learn to spot and eliminate waste in business processes.

People at all levels of an organization can participate in kaizen, from the CEO down, as well as external stakeholders when applicable. The format for kaizen can be individual, suggestion system, small group, or large group.

At Toyota, it is usually a local improvement within a workstation or local area and involves a small group in improving their own work environment and productivity. This group is often guided through the kaizen process by a line supervisor; sometimes this is the line supervisor's key role.

While kaizen (at Toyota) usually delivers small improvements, the culture of continual aligned small improvements and standardization yields large results in the form of compound productivity improvement. Hence the English usage of "kaizen" can be: "continuous improvement" or "continual improvement."

Kaizen methodology includes making changes and monitoring results, then adjusting. Large-scale pre-planning and extensive project scheduling are replaced by smaller experiments, which can be rapidly adapted as new improvements are suggested.

When you're enjoying the warmer days remember that a welcome change to your business and lifestyle can be a breath of fresh-air.

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