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How to Spread the Kaizen Thinking Throughout Your Organization

Posted by Adam Darnell

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Sep 28, 2020 4:01:09 PM

AdobeStock_224602448One of the most significant challenges leaders must consider when they embrace the Kaizen approach to continuous improvement is getting that way of thinking to take hold and become part of the organization's daily operations. Organizations often have small bright spots where Kaizen is working wonders, but there are other areas where continuous improvement hasn't yet become a reality. To provide insight into how to spread the Kaizen mindset, we've looked to some of the most successful business leaders. Here is what they have to offer.

Show Respect and Empower Employees

Showing respect for people is one of the foundations of Kaizen. Respect leads to improvement by reinforcing that their input is valued and that leadership is interested in creating the conditions in which everyone can do their best work.

"Our mission statement about treating people with respect and dignity is not just words, but a creed we live by every day. You can't expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don't exceed the employees' expectations of management." Howard Schultz


Start with Small Changes

When people think of Kaizen projects, they often expect disruptive, revolutionary change. Still, improvement can be spread most effectively with smaller, incremental improvements that are easy to implement, yet useful in solving annoying problems.

"Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results. Why? Because consistency is the mother of mastery. And increment improvements are the father of exceptionalism." Robin Sharma


Provide Visibility

People must see Kaizen's results even if the improvement doesn't directly affect the process they operate. Kaizen software makes it easy to display daily improvement activities and results for the whole organization.

"A strong culture brings in people that are connected to others in the organization. When we are connected to others, barriers break down, we challenge each other more, we gain energy from each other, and ultimately we perform better as a result." Rene Lacerte

How to be an Influential Kaizen Coach
Be Consistent

Every department and team should consistently apply the continuous improvement tools used to support Kaizen. Standard work should be used to structure improvement and provide a baseline for measuring positive change in any process.

"Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time." John C. Maxwell


Be Willing To Take Risks

Fear of the possibility of failure is one reason that some people are reluctant to embrace Kaizen. But a culture of improvement thrives in organizations that are willing to accept the risk that some attempts at improvement will not succeed. Rather than punishing people for trying things that don't work, these organizations encourage experimentation even if it takes a few tries to find the winning approach.

"Failure is not the opposite of success; it's part of success." Arianna Huffington


Set and Share Organization-Wide and Individual Goals

Improvement projects should be implemented in a way that aligns with the strategic goals of the organization. Leaders must effectively communicate goals and objectives that cascade from the top down to the individual level. These goals should be an essential part of employee performance evaluation.

"The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting and achieving goals." Og Mandino

Using Practical Problem Solving to Spread Kaizen
Invest in Kaizen Tools

Kaizen spreads when leaders commit resources and time to it. The investment may be hiring people to be responsible for continuous improvement. It might be investing in training, and it can take the form of implementing technology solutions designed to support Kaizen.

"Don't tell mew hat you value. Show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value." – Joe Biden


Recognize and Show Appreciation to Those Who Engage in Kaizen

Leading by example is essential, but it is also critical for people to see their peers recognized and rewarded for improving. We recommend broadcasting successful improvement throughout the organization so that everyone can see how much it matters.

"Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other." Randy Pausch


The Kaizen way of thinking won't spread throughout your organization on its own. Still, if you take this advice, it can quickly catch on and become deeply integrated into your organization's culture. It requires careful thought, time, and resources, but the rewards are worth it.

Topics: Kaizen, Leadership

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