Kaizen: 5 principles that ensured the success of the Japanese management model

The Japanese have always been, are and will be very consistent. When I watched the documentary “Jiro dreams of sushi”, he was very impressed. Especially the Giro Ohno story that they are considered honorable to bring any matter to perfection. Even if you work as a janitor, you should not complain about fate, but should bring your work skills to perfection. The Japanese do not jump from work to work in search of the ideal, they can from any job in the end do the work of their dreams. Because the whole thing is in the approach.

Why not learn from the Japanese again and try their management method, which they use in their management, applying it not only to work, but to themselves? I looked for information about this system on the Internet and tried to build a more individual approach from the corporate approach.

Kaizen, kaizen (ya 改善 kaizen ?, romaji Kaizen; wrong version of kaizen is encountered) – Japanese philosophy or practice that focuses on the continuous improvement of the processes of production, development, supportive business processes and management, as well as all aspects of life.

The basis of the Kaizen method consists of 5 key elements, “5 S”:

  • Seiri – accuracy
  • Seiton – order
  • Seiso – cleanliness
  • Seiketsu – standardization
  • Shitsuke – discipline

These principles can be adjusted both for their work and for their lives. After the end of the Second World War, it was thanks to the application of this technique that many Japanese companies, including Toyota, managed to quickly recover and overtake the lost capacities.


If you decide to try to apply the 5 Kaizen prizes to your work, then these 5 points should take your place of honor right in front of your nose and hang there until their execution becomes the basis of your work.

1. Sorting. You have to sit down, think carefully and make a list of what you want to improve and what you think prevents you from working more effectively. This principle states that an employee should not do anything superfluous, do not do his job. Which of the following is the least relevant to your main job? Some part can be reduced to a minimum (checking mail, working with documents), some can be delegated to the one to whose specialization they are more relevant. For example, in some firms it is customary that sales managers themselves calculate the cost of the services sold, issue bills and make contracts. Although in fact, the accounts and the calculation of the cost – this is the business of accounting, and contracts – the legal department, or again, the accounting department. Sometimes it seems that if you do it all yourself, it will be faster and you will not have to run to the bookkeepers. This part, for some reason, all upsets, and sometimes scares, most of all. But in fact, if you organize the process correctly and convey to these departments that, in fact, this is their job, things will go much faster.

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Think, that is superfluous, and get rid of it. And think about what simple changes can be made to the workflow. As the ocean consists of drops, so global changes begin with small changes.

2. Arrangement and installation of order After you have discarded all that is superfluous, you can streamline the work process by arranging the cases in the required order. It will be good if, for at least the first few weeks, you will conduct something like your work diary, in which you will record the completed cases, the time in which they were performed, the amount of time that was spent on their implementation, and mark their priority. As a result, it may turn out that the most important things take the least time for you, and the routine eats up most, although sometimes it seems that it’s easier to sit down first, for example, to plan for a day (a week, a month) to swing, and then already warmed up to perform the most important. In the end, it can happen that you do not have time to accomplish the most important thing.

If you know that you usually have 2-3 difficult things to do, it’s best to put them on for a time when your productivity is at a peak. We have already published an article on “prefrontal Mondays” and, perhaps, this option is just for you.

3. Cleaning or polishing. After the end of the day, do not forget to clean up your office desk and put everything in its place. Finding the right things and documents is much easier when everything lies where it should.

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Order should be imposed not only on the desktop, but also in your head. To do this, it is better to allocate a few minutes, look into your working diary and summarize, make the necessary notes and … forget about the work, when you will be outside the threshold of your office. Because the next morning you have to come to work with a clear head and fresh thoughts. About the benefits of distraction from the task and returning to it after some time we have already written many times. So you have a much better chance of finding an interesting and fresh solution.

4. Standardization (systematization). After you got rid of the cases, the performance of which is not part of your duties, built your workflow and put everything in shelves not only in the workplace, but also in your head, it’s time to make a system out of it. That is, every morning you have to do everything according to this built-in scheme. Observe it, and you will see the results.

5. Maintaining practice. When the first 4 processes are performed, they become for you a new way of working. You must stick to the intended path and do not roll back, to old habits and methods.

Thinking about a new method, you are more likely to think about how you can make any other changes to improve efficiency. And thus you will again review the first 4 aspects, making changes to the process. Thus, you constantly improve the methods of your work. And this is the right path, because Kaizen’s main goal is a constant, uninterrupted perfection.

A life

The same “5S” can be adjusted to any aspect of life. For example, you want to start a healthy lifestyle.

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The first “S”. You sit down, divide the leaves into two parts and write down everything that disturbs you in one column, and in the second – what helps.

The second “S”. After determining all the positive and negative points, you make yourself a schedule, which includes all the useful (walk in the park, go out for a walk at lunch, etc., etc.). In addition to creating a “health schedule”, you can simply make a list of what you should start doing. For example, make yourself a schedule to reduce the use of harmful food to a minimum and the gradual introduction of useful products into your daily diet. You need to do this gradually, otherwise the body, and then the will power, just rebel, demanding a dose of sugar and simple carbohydrates, to which he is accustomed.

The third “S”. To be honest, it’s difficult for me to draw an analogue to this S, but if I did this for myself, I would simply include this item as “Cleaning.” Maintaining cleanliness and order is very important, whatever you try to do. This concerns both work and life. Since in a littered room a person loses strength and the right mood. In addition, cleaning can be turned into the initial stage of physical exercises or make of it a meditative process, when you need to focus exclusively on physical activities and completely cleanse your head of thoughts.

Fourth “S”. And now it’s time to turn all the changes into a system. Just stick to the created schedule and it will become your usual way of life

Fifth “S”. Watch yourself and get rid of temptations to return to the old, easier life. At first, a healthy lifestyle is given oh as hard, because there are so many temptations that it is difficult to stay. And improve by finding new ways to make your life better.

After reading a huge amount of material, I realized that the Kaizen system can be adjusted to anything. The main thing is to observe the basic rules – get rid of unnecessary, build the system and constantly improve it!

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