‘Kaizen’ reveals the path to success

IT'S close to that time of year for business owners to start thinking about ways to reduce tax and plan for the next financial year.

I always review my business plan and look through my sales forecasts and rework with the team if that fits with our five-year plan.

Many Japanese businesses have 100- to 250-year plans. How can we combine long-term thinking with the western habit of short-term unsustainable thinking?

The Japanese have another business concept called "Kaizen". It translates as good change or improvement. It is a practice that focuses on continuous improvement. It is that 1% in every aspect of your business. It is a daily practice and when done properly in any organisation humanises the workforce and eliminates overwork. The concept creates innovation in the workforce and teaches people to always look at things through a Kaizen lens.

Coming back to long-term planning, it is important to remember the real work gets done day in day out by focusing unrelentingly each day at getting a little better. The time for big thinking in your team is when you take walks in the park or when you get stranded at an airport with your teammates. It often comes in the middle of a week of executing, when you send an email, investigate, or call a huddle.

While it is an old concept, maybe Kaizen and the emphasis on daily-focused execution will ultimately take an organisation up the mountain and bring life to those old dusty plans that only get looked at once a year.

Tara Neven specialises in organisational learning and development, business management training, corporate lead


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