Let's talk about Kaizen.
🤔 Why you should care about it
"The Kaizen Philosophy assumes that our way of life – be it our working life, our social life, or our home life – deserves to be constantly improved." - Masaaki Imai, Japanese organisational theorist and management consultant.
The Japanese word kaizen, which means "change for better", is typically applied to measures for implementing continuous improvement. Embracing Kaizen principles can help technology executives engage team members, create a high-expectations culture and strive for the highest quality products.
Quality decrease with size —> As teams get bigger and products get more complex, quality usually declines over time.
Quality vs speed —> In software development, most programmers believe that speed always comes at the cost of quality.
Disengaged team members —> By default, team members don't take the initiative or make changes at their level and tend to rely on their management chain.
Leaders who embrace the Kaizen philosophy empower team members to make individual improvements at their level, thus continuously improving products, services and processes, one action at a time.
To implement Kaizen in your organisation:
- Establish a culture of continuous improvement by setting clear expectations, rewarding team members' input, and constantly communicating on changes and achievements.
- Conduct Kaizen events, where managers encourage team members to propose improvements, even tiny ones.
- Train managers on Kaizen principles so they know how to let go of command and control and trust individuals to make the best decisions.
💡 Key Concepts
Compounding effect —> Small, consistent improvements or actions accumulate over time, resulting in significant growth or change.
Empowerment —> Encouraging team members to take ownership, make decisions, and contribute ideas, leads to increased engagement and productivity.
Organisational culture —> The collection of values, expectations, and practices that guide and inform the actions of all team members.
"Kaizen is too slow to respond to the fast-paced demands of technology" —> While Kaizen focuses on incremental changes, it fosters adaptability, allowing organisations to respond effectively to rapidly changing environments.
"Organisations who focus on minor improvements can overlook radical innovations" —> Kaizen should be combined with strategic planning and innovation initiatives to balance incremental and disruptive innovations.
"Kaizen is difficult to implement in organisations with strong hierarchical structures" —> Successful implementation of Kaizen requires strong leadership, clear communication, and employee buy-in to create a supportive culture and overcome resistance to change.
📚 Top book
Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense, Low-Cost Approach to Management - Masaaki Imai
🗂 See also
📝 Top content
Our model to develop a strong engineering culture at Qonto: Kaizen Spirit - Marc Antoine Lacroix
The False Trade-off Between Quality and Speed - Mario Caropreso
Drink Lean from the Source: Learning Kaizen from Toyota - Kenji Hiranabe