Monday, March 26, 2012

Building a Kaizen Nation

As I have continued my personal use of kaizen, I am convinced it can be used for anything (I wonder if any of the NCAA Final Four basketball teams considered it).  In addition, kaizen can be scaled to small projects and to individuals all the way up to large multi-national companies and projects. Today, I find that Kaizen is being implemented in nation states by making it a national priority.  Why?  Japan realized the value of kaizen and has been exporting it to other nations whom have seen the benefits as well.  I wonder when the United States Government will get on board?

Zambia - In their 3rd year of adopting kaizen as a nation.

Remarks by the Japanese Ambassador:

Singapore - working on improving quality since the 1980s. The 2011 Legatum prosperity index rated Singapore #1 economy with a per capita GDP of $59K, 95% literacy, and life expectancy of 73 years. 

Could there be a connection with kaizen?

2011 Legatum ranking

More countries, such as Malaysia are considering a National Kaizen Movement for their country.  Why?  Because it works anywhere in any size, family, organization, or team.  It's not just for Japan anymore.

What country have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kaizen Klips #2 "Let's help him see it."

I keep a playlist of videos that illustrate continuous improvement in interesting ways. Here is #2 from the miniseries From Earth to Moon.  This clip features engineers coming up with a different way of thinking about landing on the moon.

What have you helped people to see today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kaizen or hillbilly batching?

One trampoline flow or leaf batching?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Make it easier, make it visible

Over the years, I have learned how to take care of my cars better and better. I wanted to see what kaizens I could do so that family members can help me better monitor key auto fluid levels. So, here was my first attempt to make the process of checking more visible and easier:

So, I now build on the first idea:

What ideas have you improved upon today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Friday, March 9, 2012

Why every family in American needs a continuous improvement program

Today, I am going to take a little more serious tone in this post than usual.  Most Americans hear news stories everyday about inflation but the implications get lost between celebrity sound bites and junk news.  People don't realize that accumulating effects of inflation each year that eats away savings and family finances.  In addition, monetary policy of the central bank is punishing savers by paying little or no interest.  So, your costs go up and your net income goes down-it's a double whammy.  However, there is a counter punch that any family can use to fight this threat-Kaizen.

First, a graph from that shows the rate of inflation from the 1980 formula that is more accurate than today's formula (that conveniently excludes energy and food):

At 10% annual inflation, what a dollar would buy today will require $1.61 to purchase in 2017.  Even if you use the official 2% inflation figure, your dollar will lose over 10% of its purchasing power in just five years.  What can citizens do?  While we can't control inflation, we can control our response to this threat and mobilize our family, our focus, and our creativity and start your own continuous improvement program at home.

So, here's what you can do:

1) Educate your family on the effects of inflation.

2) Start a kaizen program and get everyone involved.  Have every family member contribute ideas in the following areas:
  • What are we paying for that we are not using?
  • How can we eliminate debt faster?
  • What resources are we wasting?
  • What areas do we have resources that we should be using but aren't?
  • How can we do things better?
  • What skills can we develop that could help the family?
  • What can we optimize that is not optimal today?
  • What improvements can we make today to make life better?
3) Track your ideas and savings and share the results so everyone home can see it.  Make it fun and recognize the good work and good ideas that come out of this effort.

This blog was founded on the idea that Kaizen, change for the better, is a martial art form that can fight the inflation monster.  I urge all families to start's never too late to start improving.

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kaizen Klips #1

I keep a playlist of videos that illustrate continuous improvement in interesting ways and shows the concept.  I will share these with you over the course of time.  Here is #1 that defines kaizen.

What klips have you shared today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Friday, March 2, 2012

Heijunka and the art of lawn work

Heijunka is defined as production smoothing where orders are "leveled out" over time to create a more stable and predictable process. From wikipedia:
"As in any process, fluctuations in performance increase waste. This is because equipment, workers, inventory and all other elements required for production must always be prepared for peak production. This is a cost of flexibility. If a later process varies its withdrawal of parts in terms of timing and quality, the range of these fluctuations will increase as they move up the line towards the earlier processes. This is known as demand amplification.  Where demand is constant, production leveling is easy, but where customer demand fluctuates, two approaches have been adopted: 1) demand leveling and 2) production leveling through flexible production.

I decided to try this thinking when it comes to yard work-which is a chore I hate.  Typically, my lawn work schedule in a given week would look like this based on how much I did in the yard each day:
Monday-0 min, Tuesday-0 min, Wednesday-0 min, Thursday-0 min, Friday-0 min, Saturday-75 min, Sunday-30 minutes
So, I decided to level my work across all seven days using heijunka principles so it now the schedule looks like this:
Monday-15 min
Tuesday-15 min
Wednesday-15 min
Thursday-15 min
Friday-15 min
Saturday-15 min
Sunday-15 minutes

Now I find that I actually enjoy puting in a quarter of an hour each day on lawn work since the burden is lighter.  In addition, it has become a habit that I find myself compelled to do.  Little by little, the tedious yard work is getting done and I find myself looking forward to it since it only lasts 15 minutes.  I will be applying this leveling concept in other areas as well to see what I can level and make better and become a good habit.
What work have you leveled out today?
Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer