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


tnerB said...

Great post! Do you have any ideas on how to quantify waste in the home? I'm trying to move my household (me + 2 roommates) towards a more Lean/Kaizen setup, and if I could put dollars to the value of it, I would probably have more success. Any thoughts?

lafever said...

Yes. I think that the first step would be to sit down with your roomates and talk what creates value in your household. Once you have defined that value, start removing anything that is wasteful and doesn't add value.

For example, we as a family want value in the clothing/laundry area. We'd like clean clothes, highly available, organized, no day long laundry chore days, resonanable cost to clean clothes, etc. So, we are removing the waste from the laundry process. We have a process where we do laundry everyday instead of once a week, we learned to make our own detergent and use white vinegar as a fabric softener, dirty clothes come to the laundry daily instead of weekly, and we reduced the distance between each step of washing, drying, folding, etc.

So, pick an area that you can easily measure like groceries and get to work!