Thursday, September 6, 2007

Improving a flashlight

I love improving stuff but half the fun is the "hacking" or modification of devices.

Check out this improvement from on the Laser Flashlight Hack!! Remember to proceed at your own risk!

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer.

Thank you for reaing my blog.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Video-Discover The Power Of Kaizen For Personal & Business Success

Took a few days off. Here's a video to enjoy regarding Kaizen...

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

THank you for reading my blog.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Improving the laundry little by little

I hate laundry. With 6 people, there is always loads of clothes to was and dry. I have never liked the piles or the mess on the floor. So I got to work making the laundry process better...especially if I am going to help out! My wife has been doing most of the laundry work so it's time for me to pitch in!

The first area to improve is the post dryer processing-where the clean laundry goes...


It was messy.

It was unorganized.

It was hard to tell what basket belonged to what child.

Baskets were far away taking more time to put clothes in them.

Variation among laundry containers...

My wife has done a great job over the's those children!!!

The elegant solution: A vertical storage system with labeled uniform baskets.

Baskets are stacked vertically increasing floor space.

Each child has a labled basket with a home position.

Younger children's baskets are closer to the floor while older ones are higher.

Both ends of the baskets are labeled so you can always tell where it goes.

Baskets are closer to the dryer and take less time to reach.

Chip's basket

You get the idea.

Cost: Free because the shelves were discarded from a local grocery store. I already had the baskets and everything fit together.

Time: It took about and hour to move, organize, and label everything.

I am really happy at the way it turned out. Now, I have to train the kids on how to use the new system. Stay tuned for more updates!

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Thanks for reading my blog.

Spammer Kaizen

I believe that spammers are some of the best improvers in the world. While I certainly do not condone their heinous practices of clogging the internet with their junk mail, I have to admire their creativity and innovation. If only this focus for improvement could be used in a construcive way. Certainly, spamming is not an improvement for the average users but I am trying to make a point here about the drive for improvements.

Recently, I have notice the new tactic(at least to me) that about 90% of the spam has some sort of attachment in it-and that's this weeks spam improvement. There seems to be no end at how spammers find new ways to avoid the filters in IT systems to increase their penetration. We could all learn from these about improving.

  • If car companies were as good at improving as spammers, we'd have a 100mpg car now costing under $20,000.
  • If our government were as adept as Kaizen as spammers, we'd probably have a better situation in Iraq(not a political statement)
  • If churches improved as quickly as the spam industry, we'd see a dramatic impact on society.

Again, I don't in any way shape or form approve of spam. However, you have to admire the focus and passion on improving how spam can reach mailboxes. While their motivation is suspect, their innovation and improvements is amazing.

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Thanks for reading my blog.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Biblical Kaizen

"Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land." Exodus 23:30

Rather than God emptying the land at one time, He chose to remove them "little by little"(or the Kaizen way) because it was the best way to bring the nation of Israelites into the promised land. In verse 29, He explains why:

But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you.

Too much change cause desolation and wild animals! Isn't this true in life? We see nations where the government collaspes quickly or sudden natural disasters turn into desperate places and things run wild. People experience rapid changes thrust upon them but they can't tolerate the stress so they turn to drugs, alcohol, and the like. That's why God chose little by little change over radical. Humans can't handle big changes that happen too fast.

I was inspried when our church evangelist shared this principle with me. It is Kaizen!! Kaizen's history dates it back the 1950s while the Exodus from Egypt is thought to occured around 1500 BC, over 3,500 years ago! This principle works.

As I keep blogging, I want to share this little by little principle helps improve things in the following four ways:

  1. My personal and family life.
  2. My work
  3. My faith and church.
  4. My friends lives.

Stay tuned. Thank you God for inventing the Kaizen or little by little principle!

Dan Lafever, Kaizeer

Thank you for reading my blog.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Improving my mileage

I always get the hand me down car and my wife and daughter get the nice cars. So, in order to improve my mpg on my 1998 Plymouth Voyager, the lowest mileage car I own, I started using various hypermiling techniques(google it) hoping for some good results. Here's how's it's improved so far.

With city and highway driving, my onboard computer says that I'm getting 20.9 mpg.
The revised EPA ratings for my van are 16 city/18 combined/22 highway.
So, 20.9 is almost 3 mpg greater than 18mpg combined ratings.
Back in March, I was getting 17.5 mpg.
See for your car.
Seems to be working so far! At $2.99/gal, every bit helps.

Here's my criteria:

Anectdotely, I believe I'm at 50% city/50% highway driving.
My daily commute is about 45% highway/55% city.
I should start collecting data.
What I have learned:

Use my brakes as little as possible.
I find myself timing to make stoplights and avoid stopping.
Each gallon of gas weighs 6 pounds each.
I have been filling up half way(10 gallons) and reducing weight 60 pounds.
Less fuel to carry means less weight to move.
Hopefully, I'll bump up the meter to 21mpg today. I'm wondering if the winter vs. summer blends of gas could have anything to do with this improvements?

My next task:

Reduce the weight
Increase tire pressure

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Thanks for reading my blog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dad, I need a note for school

Could you send a permission slip for my field trip?

With three kids in school(I had four but my oldest is in now in college), it seems that I am always getting some request for a note. It's always when I am trying to drink my morning coffee. I fiddle around trying to find a pad, find a good pen, and so forth all while interrogating my kids on the reason for the note. As we have been trying to improve our processes at home, I found this chore takes longer than I expect and uses more paper than what was really needed.

  • Every note was hand written.
  • Usually it was written in a short time because the kids would remember at the last minute.
  • Due to the time constraint, quality of the content and penmanship was lacking.
  • Used a large piece of paper that was mostly blank.

The elegant solution:

A pre-printed form with every reason I need.

The top of the form has my wife and my address, phone, and contact information.
The second line has the type of absenses(absence, permission, etc) and I simple circle the one I need.
Line three has all 4 kids list and I circle the correct name
The reason the child needs a note.
Signature and date.


  • I can crank out a note in about 30 seconds versus a couple minutes.
  • Two notes can fit on one 8.5" X 11" so I am using less paper than before.
  • If the kids forget to tell me the night before, I can get one done fast.
  • The note from home process is now ordered, efficient, and better quality.
  • This improvement has made me less stressed in the morning.

I have written several of these since I created the form. My daughter told me that she feels guilty turning in this new form because she is afraid that the school with think she is forging these notes. Well, I guess that's the consequence of interrupting my morning coffee too many times.

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Thanks for reading my blog

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Improving my son's morning routine.

Backpack, pack lunch, put on socks and shoes, eat breakfast, devotional, the walk to the bus. This is the order of my son's morning routine. However, finding his shoes is a big problem.

  • His shoes can be anywhere in the house.
  • He never puts them in the same place twice.
  • When he can't locate his shoes, his morning routine goes in a tailspin.
  • He gets upset when he loses them.
  • I get mad when he can't find his shoes.
The elegant improvement solution(and cheap I might add):

I simply made a cardboard cutout of his shoes and labeled it "Chip's shoes home position" and placed it next to where he puts his backpack at night. Chip knows where he is to put his shoes before going to bed:


  • He can find his shoes much easier
  • Little by little, he is placing his shoes in the home position every time.
  • His morning routine is better.
  • He and I are happier because the stress of locating his shoes is gone.
Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer
Thank you for reading my blog.

403B improvement

In my mid thirties, I realized that I was not saving enough money for my retirement:

  • As I recall, my savings was around 3-5% of my income in the 1990s.
  • Based my my contributions, I would have enought saved.
  • With pensions plans going the way of the dinosaur and social security looking paltry, it is my responsibility to prepare for the future.

So, my little by little improvement was to fold every raise or market increase into my 403B contribution. So, over time I have gradually increased to giving of my pre-tax income to what it is today in 2007, 17.5%. Here's what happened:

  • I don't miss the money that is going in my 403B.
  • I have got used to not getting much of a raise.
  • My wife has upped her contributions to 15% her part time income well.
  • It took several years to get to 17.5% but it was easy and fairly painless because we did it slowly.

I'd like to take credit for this idea but Solomon actually came up with it with the wisdom God gave him:

Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. Proverbs 13:11

I hope this helps you because it's worked for me. Take responsibility for your future with this little by little improvment idea.

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Thank you for reading my blog.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Little by little, you can change things and make them better. The japanese call this "Kaizen".

Here is what Kaizen or is:

Dan Lafever

Little by Little change

My goal is to improve things everyday in some way. Think of this as a personal "Kaizen" or continous improvement program to make life better. I'm applying this wisdom of "little by little" in my work, faith, and home life. These little changes over time are making big improvements in my life. So, here we go!

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer
Thanks for reading my blog.