KAIZEN™ for Newbies

We all are aware that KAIZEN™, is a philosophy and not a mere tool that can be handed over to any one so that they can use it. KAIZEN™ is like swimming or cycling; unless we practice it we will never learn. We can read as many books as possible or access the net where the information is abundant; however; unless we practice KAIZEN™, we cannot learn it. In today’s world it is indeed a good sign that Organizations are willing to invest time and resources in KAIZEN™ initiatives that enable them develop a culture of improvement.

The Organizations do so considering that after a specific period of practicing KAIZEN™, it will become a way of life in the organization. This happens so too. However, what we ignore here is, very few organizations take care of the newly-hired personnel getting acquainted with KAIZEN™ practices as they join. When they are new in the firm and are unaware of the existing KAIZEN™ practices, they get detached to it. Without a proper induction into KAIZEN™, the initiatives wither away. In this world of high attrition, where the HR team is facing a big challenge of talent-retention and employees keep coming in and going out of the Organization, without a plan for getting the new-hired on board for KAIZEN™ practices would only damage the improvement culture the Organization plans to establish. There is no second thought to having a session on Introduction to KAIZEN™ should be a part of the induction curriculum any organization chalks out.

Explaining What is KAIZEN™  and Why  KAIZEN™ is required?

All those who join the organization should be made aware of what KAIZEN™ is? The full definition of “Change for better – Everyday, everybody and everywhere” should be clearly explained. It is about the survival of who is willing to change; challenging status quo and finding out new ways of doing the tasks and keep improving. Improvements are based on minor incremental changes – not new inventions. The emphasis here is on observing day-to-day affairs, identify abnormalities and keep them resolving and improving on a daily basis. Any minor improvement to make the processes better is welcome.

Begin with Values & Principles

Every Organization has its own Core Values & Principles. Values are defined as “a Judgement of what is important” or in other words can be termed as, “the concepts that drives our choices”. The Values of an Organization should be linked with KAIZEN™ values. When these concepts are imbibed, making them practice KAIZEN™ would not be a difficult task at all. Based on the values, it is the time for the principles to be explained. Principles are “rules or beliefs that govern our behaviour or the way we think”. In other words, Principles are the way we carry out our Values. Values & Principles, together, they form the very foundation for the KAIZEN™ Transformation exercise which we are planning to execute.

Address the Paradigms & shift them through the 3H approach

Any newbie will be hesitant to adapt to the new practices not because he has reservations but because of the human tendency to be sceptical of anything new. The fear of failure, fear of sharing, fear of sacrificing should be eliminated. According to Dr Tan, a teacher has to be visionary, reflective and competent before making the learning fun, meaningful and effective. She developed a teaching model called 'The 3H Approach, the Head-on, Heart -on and Hands-on, which means vision, passion and action. When an improvement culture is getting a hold by regular practice and implementation in an organization, KAIZEN™ becomes personal. Employees become emotionally attached to the business outcomes in a convincing manner. Hence, it is pivotal to explain the newbies on understanding what personal benefits one can get by practicing KAIZEN™. The newbies should realize that KAIZEN™ educates, engages and empower people. The newbies should be made clear that KAIZEN™ extracts the best of each person and also provides the opportunity to go up in the career-ladder by demonstrating leadership skills from time and again while involving in the projects. 

Feedback

Let the new-comer understand that in KAIZEN™  methodology, the feedback is given on real-time basis and is a two-way traffic. Improvement is quantified and measured from time and again. This is done to capture the collective wisdom and spread the KAIZEN™ momentum.

Shun the suggestion box

Unfortunately in India, whenever the word KAIZEN™ is uttered, people perceive it as a Suggestion scheme. Suggestion box is against the principle of KAIZEN™. You may ask, “how?”. A box keeps things inside – meaning the documents inside are waiting without adding value – KAIZEN™ never encourages Muda in the processes. Hence the suggestion box is not worth it. Yes, ideas do get generated from employees. Inviting ideas and implementing them is seen as a practice of empowerment. However, in KAIZEN™ Teian, employees accept the accountability for implementing the improvement suggested or mooted.

Case-study library

KAIZEN™ practicing organizations must be having a Case-study library. Newbies should be taken through the past journey of KAIZEN™ practices by means of this case-study library. This will reflect how the journey has taken shape and how the future journey can be organized. This will give the newbies a fair idea of the 8-step methodology of improvement and facilitate him adapt to the new situation seamlessly.

Expose to KAIZEN™ tools now

The newbie is prepared and conditioned to our Gemba now; the foundation is laid. It is the time to expose them to the tools of KAIZEN™ and how they are implemented in the Organization. A basic class-room training on the insights of the tools is essential and then a schedule for On-Job training. To begin with, they can be asked to steer 5S projects or Daily KAIZEN™ initiatives as to get a feel of the methodology. Standard Work is the key for sustenance. Standard work will not cripple creativity as the Standard Work will have a cadence to review and improve thus paving way for creativity.

It would be difficult to organize a class-room training on KAIZEN™ for the newbies as the numbers may not be sufficient and the joining dates are not fixed. However, what we can do is the have a refresher course for all existing employees with the newbies. A calendar can be prepared in this regard. KAIZEN™ champions of the Organization should be made mentors to the newbies who can guide them and make them comfortable with KAIZEN™ initiatives and in the journey towards perfection where we can seek excellence. 

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