Made in Japan, with Kaizen.

One of the highlights of Blue Sky Tokyo was a Kaizen masterclass from Hilary Corna, author of “One White Face” and former Senior Executive of Toyota, who was responsible for the company’s Kaizen implementation across 14 countries.

Kaizen is a process methodology which means “Change for Better” and has come to be adapted to “continuous improvement” although this might have, to some degree, limited the thinking and application. Indeed, we were shown the Kaizen process Toyota and other highly successful Japanese companies use to effect change on the three types: continuous/incremental, step and game.

Kaizen can result in businesses making a significant step change or even developing a whole new game change for their company or industry.

We will be sharing the whole process with our members over the coming weeks but I wanted to highlight within this four-i the key component of how to effect change highly effectively.

It starts with clarifying the problem. Of the 21 delegates at Blue Sky, every single one identified a problem they wanted to fix or a system or process they wanted to improve and yet, after working with Hilary to properly define the issue, each changed it. This experience was profound. It highlights that all too often the problem, as initially articulated, isn’t actually the core issue.

For example, one agent initially identified falling average fees as his problem. But on applying the Kaizen process discovered it was actually the team’s lack of confidence in the service they offered that was the issue. When we interrogated this further, he found that the root cause was not making his valuers, never mind the customers, aware of all the things they do over and above many cut price agents.

All too often people rush to find and deliver a prescription for a problem they haven’t properly clarified or diagnosed. Kaizen is a system that ensures the discovery process is rigorous and exacting, resulting in far better solutions and results.

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