Kai = change
Zen = ideal state
Kaizen, loosely translated means “continuous improvement.”
This principle is at the very heart of the Shingijutsu philosophy. It’s about getting your people to approach problem solving and the analysis of actual root causes from a different ceaselessly inquisitive perspective.
And there is an important hierarchy to the development of kaizen in a client’s organization. The four elements of the kaizen are:
- Achieving superior capability through rigorous practice.
- Relentless improvement toward perfection.
- Action learning
- Healthy skepticism / Genba philosophy
Start at the Top
For a Kaizen mindset to take hold and become embedded into an organization or company’s way of doing business or psyche it must begin with the leadership. Their full and complete commitment to learning, sharing, supporting and teaching is critical to successful Genba transformation. We begin by ensuring that all levels of leadership undergo the same training that will be communicated with the rest of management and staff. This sends a powerful message to the organization that Kaizen is here to stay.
Learn by Doing
Shingijutsu believes that teaching is only a small part of the equation to Kaizen. The fact is that as humans we tend to retain the majority of what they learn from “doing” or action learning, not from classroom teachings. With that in mind, Shingijutsu sensei focus on getting kaizen students to the Genba to observe and act — to re-examine work problems from a much different perspective than they’re used to, and prescribe solutions that they themselves devise.
And they learn to ask a lot of questions in the process.
Why Ask “Why?”
Often times, a client’s best people are working on solutions to problems. But how many times does that problem return time and again? One of the most important exercises we conduct in kaizen is getting to and understanding the root causes of a problem. By asking the question “why?” at least five times from different perspectives, the root causes will be uncovered.
Over time, this relentless pursuit of root causes becomes ingrained in you and your people. It becomes second nature for them to question the evidence of a problem, to drill down and identify the underlying factors that so often lurk well below the surface issue. Imagine the productivity gains possible with a workforce of people thinking this way!
Nothing Like a Little Moonshine
Once the root causes are identified, we get to the matter of solution creation. Here’s where Shingijutsu thinking takes an exciting and innovative approach called moonshine, and yes, it’s perfectly legal.
Moonshine is about creating something of value from spare and/or under-utilized items. This concept is based on the moonshine stills found in the Appalachian Mountains during Prohibition. When it became impossible for anyone to buy liquor, the people had to become creative to solve this dilemma. In secret often by the light of the moon, people would take common items found sitting around and they created stills. These stills were small, inexpensive and easily moved if necessary. They “right sized” for their operations. These same ideas can be used when solving problems within your organization or company. This unique approach was invented by Shingijutsu and can provide amazing and sustainable results in a short amount of time.