The business owner of one of our horticulture clients recently mentioned that allocating time for improvement activities should be like taking lunch or morning tea.
Usually everybody takes that break - it is so ingrained in us from a standard business practice point of view but even more fundamental, from a survival perspective. Our bodies inform us that it needs food, hydration and a break from our current activities to help us refocus. These habits of eating, drinking and relaxation fulfill our survival and developmental needs. I suggest that organisations require similar sustaining habits whereby everybody, every day, everywhere in the business are improving processes and people. It should be as ingrained as taking lunch when it comes to continuous improvement.
Applying KAIZEN™ in a team should also become such an unconscious effort - people should do it as an activity ingrained in the unconscious mind. It should be a habit just as going for lunch is or leaving the office for home at a specified time. For this business owner, KAIZEN™ is not optional. Improving the workplace isn't a discussion point on the monthly meeting agenda. It is fast becoming a way the employees and management is behaving on a daily basis. For a client that just started on their Lean journey, this insight is enlightening and encouraging.
Unconcious behaviour does not imply that people are mindless and that they don't think critically. KAIZEN™ requires a lot of thinking, deep thinking, understanding root causes and finding creative solutions to bridge the identified gaps in performance and people development. Using the Lean tools should come "automatic" due to practise and improved Lean skills. This will then assist people to become very conscious of their activities (value-added and non-value-added) with heightened self-awareness (at corporate and individual level).
To put it in a nutshell: KAIZEN™ creates new habits to help us think deeply on a regular basis about being better at what we are doing so that we can have a satisfied customer.
What will you do today to create KAIZEN™ habits in your business that will become "second nature" just like the lunch time and afternoon tea habits?