We are all actively seeking to improve ourselves. It does not matter if we are working on improving ourselves as individuals, or the company that we work for, constant change is the key to success. Kaizen and Kata go hand-in-hand when it comes to small-scale improvements. They are very much the same, but have one key difference. In order to understand this difference, you need to understand what each one of these methods are individually.
Kaizen is a thinking process that involves you making small physical changes in your life, or at your job. The word Kaizen has Japanese origins, and roughly translated means constant change. The process behind how it works is actually quite simple.
You start the process by finding an area of opportunity in your life. You need to identify this area and come up with a solution. After you have identified the solution, you now implement the solution into your day-to-day life. After a short period of time, go back and analyse your solution to see if it resolved your issue, and is helping you advance your life in a positive and productive way. If you find that it works great for you, keep using it until it becomes a part of your day-to-day life. Once the solution has been implemented, it is time to move on to your next area of opportunity, and you can repeat the process from the beginning. There is no “end game” here. You just keep at it and eventually small changes become large changes, and your life benefits from the decisions you have made.
Many companies have started using this in their day-to-day operations. It is a quick and effective way to increase employee engagement, where employees find ways they can improve the job that they are doing, and receive appropriate feedback from their manager (but not “approval” from them). If the idea isn’t a good solution, or the problem statement isn’t clear, or they are lacking data to support the problem, the employee is provided feedback and coached on how to approach it differently. The process works better than the typical committee looking for million dollar improvements, as the results are tangible, and the employee is engaged in the solution. When solutions are passed to management or someone else to implement, there is a disconnect between the worker and the improvements that need to be made.
Kata is very similar to Kaizen with one key difference; it involves a more mental approach. The focus on the Kata method involves critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as opposed to physical changes in the environment. This slow process of changing the way you think will make you more efficient at solving problems than you ever imagined. It can be just as beneficial for your personal and professional life if you implement it the correct way. You will be able to handle even the most challenging problems with minimal effort before long. Problem-solving skills are crucial in every aspect of your life; there is no better time to start than right now.
The beauty of both of these methods is that they can be used together to make you an all-around productive person. If you are able to control your environment, as well as the way that you think, you are bound to see successful changes in your life. It can take some practice, but once you get some of the basic steps down, and see what a difference it can make, you will wonder why you waited this long to get started.
The main benefit of using these methods together is that they are completely manageable. If you try to make a large drastic change to your life, it can be hard to adapt, and the odds are you will not stick with it the way that you thought you would. When you are able to examine your life and change tiny factors piece-by-piece, before long the big results will start to show through.