We can all use a little Kaizen

I’ve heard of Kaizen before, but never paid much attention to the concept since it was pushed as a business philosophy. Kaizen comes from the Japanese words ‘Kai’ (school) and ‘Zen’ (wisdom). The most common definition is ‘continuous improvement’ as a process for change. I like the definition of “change for the good/better.”

My youngest son participates on a competitive travel hockey team.  This youth hockey organization applies the Kaizen principles to athletic training and personal development…using the key elements of quality, effort, teamwork and mutual respect, the willingness to improve, and communication.   Developing hockey skills (or any endeavor) is not a short-term goal or process.  It requires a real commitment and an eagerness to change.

Kaizen is based on taking little steps, on making small changes on a regular basis.  Similar to compound interest, small daily improvements performed continuously over a period of time will build on itself to become significant improvements over the long-term.

Most people and organizations want a quick fix, they want the answer or solution right now.  Kaizen definitely should be applied to healthcare issues.  Often times the doctors I have met were quick to prescribe a prescription; pop a pill and all will be fine (short-term).  Let’s find out what the cause is first instead of just treating the symptoms.  Maybe my expectations are set too high.   I have never heard “I am here to help you; we are in this together for the long haul.”   We can all use a little Kaizen.


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