Kaizen is a manufacturing process concept that was made popular by the Japanese after World War II. It originated in the United States during World War II as a way to improve the manufacturing process to support the war in Europe. Dr. W. Edward Deming was a significant proponent of this concept.
The concept was to make many small improvements in their factories and operations to realize big improvements in manufacturing. This enabled the United States to produce massive amounts of equipment to support the war.
The concept or philosophy of small steps leading towards improvement was introduced to Japan after World War II when General MacAuthor’s occupation forces began toe process to rebuild Japan. Japan accepted it and it became a major force in its business philosophy.
The concept was not well received after the war in the United States. The concept of small steps towards improvement was basically ignored and things got back to normal. However, Japan became so successful using this new concept that they gave it a name of their own–kaizen.
Kaizen is about making small improvements to realize an overall large one. One could say that improvement using the kaizen principle is the aggregate of many small improvements.
Though kaizen was developed to improve manufacturing processes, its fundamental principle can also be used in many other areas. We can make small daily improvements ourselves and realize a large improvement later as we move forward to achieve a specific goal.
I use the kaizen principle as a backdrop in life coaching. It is not necessary to be innovative (a big change for improvement) to have a better life. Start small. Take one step at a time. I like the saying in a Christmas movie that I watch every year, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. In the movie, the Winter Warlock is told simply to put one step in front of the other as he began his new life.
The same applies to us. Just take each day one by one and make small improvements in them. Put one foot in front of the other and don’t try to achieve your goals in one jump.