Originally posted January 11, 2017 author: Samantha Woods
Wishing you a year of GOOD - CHANGE(a.k.a. KAI-ZEN!)
Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long-term results.
As the new year unfolds, tradition dictates that we take some time to set new goals and create some planned positive change for the year ahead. In our office, this isn’t unique to turning the calendar page to a new year. In fact, we are continually working with our students to reflect, set goals and create accompanying action plans to assist them on their journey of continuous improvement. The KAIZEN business philosophy of “change for better” definitely applies here. People often ask me, “What does KAIZEN mean? Why did you call your practice KAIZEN?”
Masaaki Imai brought this business philosophy from Canada to the Western world around 1986. The true meaning, simply put is “GOOD-CHANGE” - Kai = change and Zen= good. In other words, change for the better. Over the last few years, it’s been fun to witness my friends and family begin to morph the word into various usages:
”Mom, are you KAIZENING today?”
“Sam - my kid needs some KAIZENIFICATION.”
“I think my husband/wife may need to be KAIZENIFIED.”
I’m not sure this was exactly what Mr. Masaaki Imai envisioned when he was writing about his business philosophies and resulting Japanese competitive business success... BUT essentially, I really loved what he had to say about the word KAIZEN and his description of IMPROVEMENT, not only on a production line, but within human beings:
“One of the most notable features of kaizen is that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time. However this has been misunderstood to mean that kaizen equals small changes. In fact, kaizen means everyone involved in making improvements.”
As I explored more about the KAIZEN philosophy, I began to wonder,
"What if schools empowered their students and teachers the same
way a business empowers its’ employees to continually improve
their processesand systems on the production line?”
Now, of course, schools are dealing with young developing brains, not machines and metal. However, the approach to EMPOWER all key stakeholders to adjust their practices and make small improvements leading to long-term results while contributing to the greater good made perfect sense! Everything that I believed to be true when working with children was included under this Japanese umbrella: goal setting, reflection without blaming or shaming, collaboration, open communication with everyone involved, continual research utilizing the latest findings in our daily practice.
When you watch THIS VIDEO, replace the words ‘business’ and ‘employees’ with ‘schools’ and ‘students’ and in a nutshell, you have our KAIZEN vision for ALL of our students according to Steve Jobs.