Monday, September 1, 2008

Jehovah-Old Testament Kaizeneer

The concept of continuous improvement is found in the Bible illustrating that Kaizen is a very old technique indeed. Let’s first look at a passage in the Old Testament addressing the “little by little” method. This one is from the book of Exodus, written sometime in the second millennium B.C. by Moses as God addresses the people:

“I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 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. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

The simple kaizen strategy employed by Jehovah to prepare the people for the Promised Land is very interesting:

• God will use the hornet to drive enemies out before the Israelites come in. A “hornet air force” as part of the conquest plan would primarily drive out people, animals, and livestock while leaving the infrastructure of homes, wells, fields, roads, cities, and other things intact. This falls in line with God’s promise to provide his people with “wells you did not dig, homes you didn’t build”, etc.
• The slow but steady taking of the land prevented it from becoming too desolate and from quickly being overrun with wild animals. Changes in war made too quickly can have “desolating” effects on the environment as witnessed in the first gulf war with the infamous fires of Kuwait set by Sadaam’s troops. In addition, it could be argued that the current insurgency in Iraq was a kind of a “wild animal” effect when change happened too rapidly and a power vacuum occurred and political instability could not be contained effectively.
• Lastly, the little by little strategy was important because the nation of Israel could only absorb societal and cultural change at a certain rate. From a population standpoint, time was needed to produce enough people to fill the new land. In addition, the people had been uprooted, dwelled in the desert for decades, and then set out to become a colonizing force in a geographical region different from where they came. In a nutshell, they made the transitions from a slave culture to a nomadic culture to a settled agrarian culture in less than two generations. The little by little pace was needed to give the nation of Israel enough time to change and avoid internal upheaval.

Jehovah knew what he was doing with his people by using kaizen. Little by little changes also can “short circuit” human resistance by executing small steps that are easier to accomplish over a long time. Hopefully, we can all learn from Jehovah, the original kaizeneer on how to use the “little by little” method.

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever

No comments: