Changemaker Toolbox: Using the Kaizen principle to make improvements with a big impact

 

Sometimes being a changemaker feels like being Don Quijotte. The windmill is so big and you are sitting on a trusted but admittedly somewhat malnourished horse. No matter how hard you try to stop the global temperature from increasing the news still report on the opposite. In order to stay out of overwhelm and start creating small wins while going for your big goals try applying the Kaizen principle. Kaizen in Japanese means “change for better”. The principle was first applied and developed in the automotive industry engaging entire companies from leadership to assembly line staff in a process that would eliminate waste and improve the product one tiny step at a time. The principle is now widely used for anything from product improvement to life changes. In order to make the principle work in your favor here a couple steps you can take to successfully apply it to your project. Every time you look at your project or product you will see tiny improvements or be able to adjust your process. To have your small changes add up, collecting feedback in the process really helps. Best is a combination of feedback that you can give yourself, feedback from a trusted group of colleagues and friends and feedback from your customers or constituents. Including metrics in your feedback circle will enable you to see whether you move towards or away from the outcome you want to achieve.

 
1. Define a clear goal or outcome – what do you want to achieve with your workshop or how is your product supposed to look like and work.

1. Define a clear goal or outcome – what do you want to achieve with your workshop or how is your product supposed to look like and work.

 
2. Set up a production process and identify different parts or areas in which you can see what works and what doesn’ttrack.

2. Set up a production process and identify different parts or areas in which you can see what works and what doesn’ttrack.

3. For each of those areas create a feedback loop and collect metrics – how well is it working on a scale from 1-10 and needs to be improved.

3. For each of those areas create a feedback loop and collect metrics – how well is it working on a scale from 1-10 and needs to be improved.

 
4. Pick one or two things you can improve.

4. Pick one or two things you can improve.

5. Start running your process and integrate the new feedback after each round.

5. Start running your process and integrate the new feedback after each round.

While the windmill may still be in place you will probably find yourself on a better nourished horse and start tackling the wings of the windmill efficiently.

 

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