How continuous improvement can break your team (too big steps; no reward)

In Japanese business terminology, the term “kaizen” translates to “continuous improvement” or a “change for the better”. This accurately describes its motives and how you can implement a culture of continuous improvement with the help of the kaizen principle.

Often, companies focus on taking massive steps in order to make the overall work process more efficient. However, much to your surprise, this step can knock you back with your office workflow. Kaizen dictates a small, seemingly inconsequential approach to work.

By focusing on using the cumulative effect of small ongoing changes to individual work processes, you can build them up to consolidate into large overall organizational improvements. Taking a counterintuitive approach by taking baby steps to make revolutionary improvements can surely ensure that your work balance is steadily regulated and your employees and patients are always satisfied.

Making small changes

When it comes to kaizen principles, taking big leaps of change can be detrimental to your practice – putting more pressure on your employees to get a colossal amount of work done with a higher risk in case of failure. Kaizen promotes the opposite – using an apathetic method to clear roadblocks and bottlenecks and improving the overall outcome.

Toyota still manages to make millions of small improvements after 50 years. The entrepreneur Paul Akers developed an exquisite concept that helps you get started towards the right path of change. He introduced a two-second improvement. Instead of aiming for too much all at once, you can do much less and still improve. For example, you may need 45 minutes to fit fixed braces. How about you find a way to do it in 30 minutes, then 15, then 10, and then 5 minutes?

By making it a routine to work on a two-second improvement every day, your employees can be continuously pushed towards the path of improvement, thus helping build a competitive edge.

Pay attention to added value

Continuous improvement using kaizen rests on the belief that a steady stream of improvements, can have transformational results. Every little improvement brings your team forward. That being said, you must not lose sight of the added value. Optimizing non-value-added work does not make sense! The highest good of Lean Orthodontics® is the satisfaction of the patient.

And that‘s exactly what the term quality management is all about. We want to systematize and standardize our quality. Finding clarity of which direction and what imperfections you want to improve can significantly help implement a better system that benefits your practice.

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