Human Kaizen

Insights from Imai

Masaaki Imai, "Kaizen, The Key to Japan's Competitive Success"

Insights from Imai

In 1986 Masaaki Imai published “Kaizen, The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success.” Imai had worked closely with both Shoichiro Toyoda and Taichi Ohno and is probably the main man responsible for the adoption of the term kaizen in the Western corporate dictionary. Known as The Father of Continuous Improvement, he was the driver behind the Lean Manufacturing ideal adopted by software companies worldwide even post-retirement focuses on change for the better in all ways.

“Kaizen means improvement. Moreover, it means continuing improvement in personal life, home life, and working life.” Or as I have said: better in some way every day.

Our lives have six main components:

  1. Work
  2. Relationships
  3. Finances
  4. Mind
  5. Body
  6. Spirit

We don’t necessarily improve each one every day but if we can make sure we don’t take more than a half step back on anyone (and definitely not multiple days in a row) while moving ahead even slightly in a few areas each day, our lives as a whole get better. Little steps in the right direction along the journey.

In addition to the better habits leading to better outcomes that is the hallmark of traditional Kaizen, ask yourself as Imai would: what would be better? Not best, not optimal. What could I do here and now that is just a little bit better overall? Then do that little thing.