As regular readers of this blog know, many of the ideas and practices that guide the modern continuous improvement movement have their origins in Japanese philosophy and culture. Today’s leaders talk about kaizen (improvement), hoshin kanri (direction setting), and kanban (visual management) regularly. Recently, while scrolling through my Instagram feed of all things, I was struck by another Japanese concept that deserves some thought in the business context as well – the art of Kintsugi.
Kintsugi which translates to “golden journey” and is also known as Kintsukurio (golden repair) is the art of repairing broken pottery by joining the broken pieces with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. No attempt is made to hide the repair; in fact, the technique highlights it. The repair becomes part of the history of the object. The object is not beautiful despite the fact that it was broken, it is more beautiful because it was broken.