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Kaizen Method : The Winning Strategy

Do you know what makes life exciting & valuable? The motive to be better than you were yesterday. By continually improving every aspect of our lives - be it professional or personal, we can strive forward & be the best versions of ourselves that we always aspire to be.

'Kaizen' is the Japanese word (Kai = change/improvement, Zen = good) about achieving improvements by taking small steps instead of radical/drastic changes. These small increments lead to significant improvements over time, which is why Kaizen has been the go-to method for process improvement.

The Kaizen philosophy is based on ten principles:

  1. Let go of assumptions

  2. Be proactive

  3. Challenge the status quo

  4. Let go of perfectionism & take an approach of iterative, adaptive change

  5. Look for answers

  6. Create a surrounding in which everyone feels empowered to contribute

  7. Do not accept the apparent issue; instead, ask "why" several times to get to the root cause

  8. Involve several people in the process & ask for their opinions

  9. Use creativity to find low-cost, small improvements

  10. Never stop improving

A professor from Stanford, Dr. Carol Dweck, has found that the most significant difference between successful & unsuccessful people lies in their mindset. You can either have a fixed or growth mindset.

If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your potential & character are unchangeable & have been "written in stone" since birth. You assume that they can't be improved or modified in a meaningful way. Thus, any success in this kind of mindset results from inherited talent, the given resources, & the environment you were born in. Instead of thinking of improving yourself, you hope that other people will be less competent than you. Furthermore, it leads to a desire only to look smarter, but not improve yourself. The result of the fixed mindset is that people don't develop their intellectual competencies over time.

The other option is having a growth mindset. It means that you believe in improving your character & personal evolution by working on yourself. You see yourself as being at a particular starting point with the option to experiment, test new ideas, & improve yourself continually – your skill, beliefs, & competencies. In the growth mindset, intelligence isn't static, but rather one that can be developed. Instead of looking smart, it leads you to build intelligence by continually learning, thus improving yourself overall. Another positive result is the mindset of embracing challenges, seeing effort as the path to mastery, being inspired by others' success &, learning from criticism. You see everything as a skill, & every skill can be practiced & improved. With a growth mindset, flaws & problems are only opportunities to improve. Unknown & new things bring learning opportunities, mastery leads to passion & purpose, & every failure is only a temporary setback. Therefore, the growth mindset leads to tremendous personal success, self-esteem & self-confidence, constant learning, better relationships, avoiding perfectionism, & becoming the best version of yourself.

A growth mindset is an essential requirement for cultivating the Kaizen culture. We might say that Kaizen's spirit is more about finding the flow of change rather than looking for measurable steps. This isn't to say that massive improvements do not occur. However, the point is that you are not striving for brilliant insights but merely trying to do a little better moment by moment. In essence, aim for micro improvements in your day-to-day life. Do not overthink it; get going with it. What you will find as time passes are subtle continual improvements that will empower you to set the next set of goals.

Author : Parv Bhatt, IIT Roorkee, SeniorUndergraduate Image Source:

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