The term Kaizen which originates in Japan is the practice of continuous improvement. The understanding that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time. Having worked with some of the top athletes in the world and having been an athlete myself, the attitude is there is always room for improvement.
As an individual athlete this means that you & your coach lead yourself to new shores. That you seek to better yourself, challenge the status quo and drive towards excellence every day. It requires a strategy and an action plan that takes you from where you are to where you want to be. Breaking down your strengths and areas for improvement physically, mentally, emotionally, technically, tactically and socially.
Kai = Change Zen = Good or Change for the Better.
There are many cross overs between competitive sport and the business world. Every day I get to use my experience as an athlete to excel in my own business and help my clients to do the same. Kaizen is a discipline and evolutionary practice. It is relentless and never ending. As a company or corporation this practice can be taken to a completely different level. Here are 3 ways this can be done:
- Everybody: It involves the betterment of everybody in the organisation, starting at the very top first & including every single person in the company. Change & improvement must start with the leadership. Why? because leaders are role models. A leader must lead from the front and be an example of what is possible.
- Everywhere: It includes changing for the better in every part of the business. Every department, team, office & aspect of the business is to be thoroughly examined and ways found to take things to another level.
- Everyday: It includes a consistent and persistent daily focus so that change occurs for the better everyday. This is where the rigorous and relentless practice of Evolutionary Leadership comes into play. Leadership is responsible for driving the change but the people must be responsible for creating it as a team. This requires collaboration, deep trust, mutual respect and 100% commitment.
Where the rubber hits the road is when it translates into daily and weekly actions. A clear structure for the week and activities that will move you forward bit by bit. This requires that you proactively change for the better. You have to like change, letting go and stepping into a new and better you every day. Once responsibility is given and received, high accountability is the key to seeing it made real.
I have always said that Leaders are readers and learners. One of the best ways to learn is to teach. This is the Leaders responsibility to serve others by being aware of the process of how things work. Because the leader is aware of this, they can shed light on others. Help them bring things to awareness that they were not aware of. They need each other to constantly improve and this requires mutual love and respect.
How can you bring the practice of Kaizen to your life, to your business? What would be the impact if you improved 10 things by 1% every month? Marginal gains is the strategy that top athletes, leaders and corporations use to constantly improve their performance. Will you?
Timothy J. Carroll is passionate about helping leaders transform and create outstanding long-term results, by dramatically developing people and their performance.
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