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KAIZEN: A Perfect Process

The word Kaizen is Japanese term that powerfully depicts the perfect process of learning and implementation. One small step at a time creates change. Gradual, continual progress means movement. Consistent improvement creates change for the better. Whatever way you want to look at it, since a friend first discussed the word with me over a decade ago, Kaizen has become a part of my language.

I love the way Kaizen perfectly explains how everything and anything is achieved. In Japan, it is more a way of life – in the west, where we stand in front of a microwave impatiently tapping our fingers, or we groan with exasperation if our internet connection is a bit slow to link us across the other side of the planet, the thought of gradual improvement may take time to absorb into our psyche.

However, small incremental change is the way of the world. I often wonder if Neil Armstrong [who first stepped onto the moon on 20 July 1969] changed more than the way we view ourselves with the words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. We have become a world that wants instant fixes, fast-food results. With Facebook having turned 10, we can’t avoid seeing that social media as a whole has changed the very nature of society. People all over the world are now providing each other with advice and moral support, people are no longer in hiding or protecting their anonymity.

Since the dawn of the first internet service back in 1969 to when Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg launched in February 2004, movement was slow. Since then even he could not have imagined the forces it would unleash in such a short space of time. His intent was to connect college students. Facebook, which is what this website rapidly evolved into, ended up connecting the world and the children of this connected era see the world as one giant social network. Life will never be the same.

During my childhood, all knowledge was local. I learned everything I knew from my parents, teachers, spiritual mentors and friends. If you were privileged and had access to a library or an encyclopedia, you could learn a little more. But that has changed for those born in the last decade of last century. Today’s children are rising above the fears and biases of their parents, and it is here that budding entrepreneurs will change the face of business.

Unfortunately, despite the world changing at a rest pace, a person’s ability or rather the time or process it takes them to make decisions has not. Understanding that real and significant success does not happen overnight is important whether you are thinking about your health improvement, your attitude to life, or your philosophy about money. Health, wealth and wisdom is the name of this site – and the only way to create change in any of these areas is by doing the daily disciplines that bring about that change.

This seems to be a concept that many people I work with cannot comprehend.  In business, people seem to expect results almost before they have exerted any effort. Over the years as a business coach, it appears that one of the most difficult concepts for budding entrepreneurs to grasp seems to be that the term ‘relationship building’ is not about ‘one night stands’ – it’s really about a kaizen approach.

While follow-up is often spoken about, even key leaders allow themselves to get discouraged when someone doesn’t jump on board in the first two or three attempts to enrol them to improve their health, wealth or wisdom. Despite the fact that we quote the statistics: only 1% of conversions are made at the first contact, 10% by the third contact, 80% after the eighth contact … People still seem to expect total conversion if they really make the effort to make their second or third contact. Here is where the term Kaizen is key …

In this day and age with the advent of the web and the of multi media platforms, in the web 2.0 world, social media is the instrument of change. In a gradual process of change, social media enhances customer loyalty, facilitates communication, opens the door to innovation, makes people, organisations and governments more transparent, and calls us to act.

We achieve this by applying a Kaizen  practice of implementation, a Kaizen mindset, a Kaizen work ethic of integrity. Wikipedia says: “Kaizen is a daily process, 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.” This is the root of our success, and a key for you, should you want to achieve it for yourself.

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