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.

Kaizen Meetings:

  1. Identify the purpose or key question.  It might begin with, “I wonder . . . “ Discuss the ideal answer to the question.  Identify the principles and priorities.
  2. 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?
  3. Identify actions that could bring the current state to the ideal identified in #1 in an improved process.
  4. Decide which action(s) to test. Commit to a practical way to test one or more actions.
  5. Evaluate.  Refine.

At subsequent meetings, before entertaining a new question:

  1. Report on the actions that were tested in response to the previous question.
  2. Adjust your action based on what you are learning. Change it.  Stop it.  or Try something else. 
  3. Identify a new topic, purpose or question to be discussed.  Repeat above.

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