Mina-san, Konnichiwa! Today we’re going to talk about kaizen.
Kaizen is a Japanese buzz-word that means “good change”, or “continuous improvement”, and harnesses the power of small.
It works like this. Find yourself facing a Big Problem?
- Ask small questions. Are you sure the Big Problem isn’t actually a series of small problems? Don’t take it at face value, it’s probably not as big as it seems!
- Focus on small ideas. You probably don’t need to straight-up Hadouken the Big Problem, but simply chip away at it little bits at a time.
- Seek small rewards – they incentivise you to keep going and stop you from burning out. Plus, you get them more often! Yay!
Everyone freezes when faced with a Big Problem, and some of us simply give in. It’s fight or flight kicking in. The most basic idea of kaizen is that having a huge goal or problem to solve in the near future is a bit like a looming doom, and breaking it up into smaller chunks just makes it easier to swallow.
Better yet, it suggests that through little actions made often, the process can become easier and almost automatic!
Even better still, corporate kaizen requires everyone in the workplace to commit to it in order for it to work best, like tiny ants. Yup, that means your boss has to make the effort too. And their boss! And their boss…
So while smaller efforts are easier, especially if everyone does their bit, kaizen needs to be a long term commitment. The end game should be to make whatever you do leaner and more agile so that you can continue to bring down big problems. Like a team of dual-wielding ninjas.
How can it help me?
So, kaizen is streamlining a task or process by making small changes as often as possible. Hey, that sounds a lot like habit forming! They both work on the principle of little and often, so they work really well hand in hand.
Ideally, you want to make your standard processes of production or problem solving more manageable and efficient… and less like work. Kaizen is the methodology you want to use, and habit-forming is the way you’re going to master it.
With design thinking in general, so much of it is speculative that it’s very easy to get lost inside your own head (we’re guilty of that here at make it pop). Creatives, as a people, can tend to overthink and blow problems out of proportion but kaizen encourages you to keep things small ‘n’ doable to prevent that from happening; to share your ideas and trust in the support from others in your circle, office, or industry.
With the rich and mighty, always a little patience.
And with ‘little and often’, always a little practice!
Kaizen gets easier the more you do it, and you can turn it into a habit by repeating the process when given the right cue. Make it pop can be a fun tool for kaizen practice, especially as some of the more out-there prompts can seem impossible at first such as a homepage for Tamagotchi Activists. Make a habit out of using make it pop and practice turning Big Problems into easily defeatable little challenges! You’ve got this <3