Heads up for ECM, BPM & BPO software executives by Mark Edwards, CEO - Document Boss

Just One Thing

30 November 2015

By Mark Edwards

The Power of Kaizen In Your Business


Kaizen = The practice of continuous improvement

The success of any blog post could be seen as its ability to fulfil on its promise. So my objective for you with this blog is to give you one thing that you can use to improve your business.  You may consider that to be a lowly goal and one relatively easy to achieve but don't underestimate the power of “just one thing”.

One of the most exciting aspects of kaizen is its simplicity. Massive results come from many small changes, accumulated over time. However, don't misunderstand or be misled by the term “SMALL changes”. At the heart of kaizen one of the key principles of this business philosophy is that everyone is involved in making improvements. It is about a change in mindset by everybody in the organisation. While the majority of changes may be small, the greatest impact is made by the kaizen improvements that create long term, transformational company improvements.


Small Steps to Success


Kaizen is a Japanese word that represents the process of achieving sustained success through small, steady steps. As a sportsman who has competed in triathlon and other sports for many years, I can very much relate to this approach. I realized, particularly in a multi-discipline sport, that success was a result of continuous, tiny improvements. As an athlete you learn that your body reacts imperceptibly to training.  After the first year, improvement slows and you have to work continuously on tweaking tiny elements of your performance, day-by-day.

The same principle applies for entrepreneurs in the business world: you’re always working on small, incremental improvements that will deliver better results in the future. I was recently reviewing our Equity Value Accelerator Programme (EVA) with my colleagues and, even though this is a program built upon many years’ experience, which we have now delivered in multiple regions for a number of years, we were still able to identify some improvements which we have incorporated, for the benefit of our clients.  


Relaxed and Inclusive Approach Achieves Results


Gaining the insight ideas for these tiny improvements in business can happen at random times - such as when taking a shower or just before falling asleep at night.  They can also be facilitated by giving yourself and your management team the luxury of thinking about just one thing - A time when you are relaxed, in a positive frame of mind and there are no distractions from email, your mobile or any of a dozen other issues you could be juggling in your mind.  Ideas are more likely to flow when you have that single focus, like an athlete in competition.  In the case of a sprinter, it would be described as ‘relaxed power’ - The sort of performance we saw from Usain Bolt when he beat the 100m world record: he crossed the line beating his chest, celebrating, looking the most relaxed in the line-up.  

Many of the qualities traditionally associated with entrepreneurs, such as being self-willed, confident and determined, may actually get in the way and prevent you from getting the best from your colleagues around you.  To gain the best insights, there needs to be a relaxed atmosphere where everybody is allowed to explore ideas and be free to fail in their brainstorming. I have been part of many tough discussions on important issues and have also witnessed strong challenges and vigorous defending of one’s own ideas. This approach quickly stifles creative thinking and the free exchange of ideas. Being more open to all ideas creates an environment where more will participate and there is a greater flow of ideas. Becoming more receptive to the source of that one idea and allowing the “crazy idea” to be an important part of the process, means spending more meeting time in a better frame of mind.  It is in that better frame of mind that the best one idea will germinate. 


Be the Momentum Behind the First Step


Sometimes, all it takes is one tiny step to propel you with momentum along a path of continuous development and greater success - But you have to take that first step.  It is our responsibility to be the momentum behind the taking of that first step.

For companies in the ECM, Information Management sector that are looking to build, grow and/or exit and would like assistance to smooth your way along that path, please contact Document Boss here


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