Using Kaizen as an Entrepreneur

This post is about using Kaizen principles as an entrepreneur. Kaizen is a Japanese concept meaning “continuous improvement” or “change for the better”. When applied to entrepreneurship it honors improving processes — and optimizing the entrepreneurial journey — more than focusing on static outcomes. The underlying philosophy is not the comparison of a beginning point and endpoint but the process of improvement and growth in the present. When applying Kaizen to an entrepreneurial system, you should involve every member of your business (across all levels). There are five elements to consider:

  • Teamwork
  • Discipline
  • Quality circles
  • Morale
  • Employee Input

In Kaizen, everyone within your endeavor is expected to share in the collective entrepreneurial experience… successes and shortfalls. This is not a one day event or celebration, rather an enduring process which aims to eliminate inefficiency and ambiguity. In addition, it also aims to create a harmonious working atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to participate in making the business better. Using Kaizen principles, organizational structures are flattened and everyone works with everyone else within the business. Furthermore, it is assumed perfection can never be truly achieved, there is always room for improvement. Therefore, this is not a problem based approach… it is a constant process. Everyone around you becomes a big-picture thinker.

Using this philosophy your employees begin to understand that their opinions are important and useful. They naturally become more empowered. The biggest takeaways from Kaizen is the importance of process, and that success is a journey that has no end… it is paved by being mindful of small consistent victories. Everything is built by taking small steps, by taking everything into consideration. Entrepreneurs using Kaizen principles take nothing for granted and constantly look to improve by taking small steps everyday and honoring the process of building a meaningful business. If you would like to learn more about Kaizen, I suggest reading Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions, Second Edition by David Mann.