Anyone who has worked for Toyota will know the meaning of this word. According to Wikipedia, it is Japanese for ‘change for the better’ or ‘improvement’. In fact it is now becoming mostly used to mean ‘continual improvement’.

The Japanese have an interesting approach to management, where (in principle) no one goes home until everyone has completed their work for the day. The result being that managers are blamed if their employees are over worked or over stressed – a balance being considered as always best. And so it is that the application of Kaizen, in the workplace, becomes a daily task and can be seen as much more than just the application of improvements to productivity.

I was reminded of Kaizen this week because I am busy struggling with the reality of finding a way of not only applying it into a company, but also I want to see if I can even apply it to myself!

One of the Bayard Partnership’s clients has an extremely complex supply chain and end to end business process flow. If the results are bad in November, the real root causes maybe down to errors considered as unimportant that occurred many months earlier. If I may offer an analogy: it is not until we actually see the great icebergs melting that we begin to believe that global warming might actually be a problem.

Until now the global warming argument has always been (very conveniently) centered around, 'if what is causing it has anything to do with human behavior?'. Yet right now the symptoms are becoming so severe that they are forcing us to look much deeper into its possible real causes and to finally begin to tackle the complexity of the problem in such a way as to eventually find solutions.

The question for both the Bayard Partnership's client and the World is – is it too late? Or will the continuing irrelevant, sidestepping questioning and fault blaming only deliver short term solution strategies, rather than tackle the core issues?

As evidence of surface level, side stepping, arguments: only last week we heard Senator McCain make fun of Senator Obama because he said that if Americans checked their tire pressures more regularly and had their car engines tuned for efficiency, the amount of oil that McCain wants to drill out of an important world nature site would not in reality be needed.

If anyone has experience in effectively implementing Kaizen techniques into companies apathetic for change, then please feel free to share them with me and my blog readers…

Have a good week,