Kaizen: A Process for Continuous Improvement
The Kaizen of breaking down a question worth discussing
At Northern Edge Algonquin we strive for continuously improving our processes and our products and experiences. A good place to start a process of continuous improvement is to ask good questions.
If you take the time to ask a really really good question, you’ll set yourself up to get some really good answers.
The process of Kaizen, or continuous improvement is a simple one. We find a key principle is that we are not seeking the final solution in our meetings, but rather, ideas to ‘test’. Testing an idea is a safe way to explore new processes, without a permanent commitment. The key is to test an idea only for as long as necessary before making adjustments that are required to get an even better result.
If a test isn’t working. Stop the test and try a different test solution.
- Identify the purpose or key question. It might begin with, “I wonder . . . “ Discuss the ideal answer to the question. Identify the principles and priorities.
- Identify current state and underlying truths (Are they assumptions or truths?) Discuss current practices as they relate to the topic. Where do current practices fall short of the ideal outcomes?
- Identify actions that could bring the current state to the ideal identified in #1 in an improved process.
- Decide which action(s) to test. Commit to a practical way to test one or more actions.
- Evaluate. Refine.
At subsequent meetings, before entertaining a new question:
- Report on the actions that were tested in response to the previous question.
- Adjust your action based on what you are learning. Change it. Stop it. or Try something else.
- Identify a new topic, purpose or question to be discussed. Repeat above.