In Japan, it’s called Kaizen—the word for “improvement,” or “change for the better.” When practiced in business, manufacturing, service, or even in one’s personal life, Kaizen can be the key to success.
To help you practice Kaizen in your own business, we have a 6-part continuous improvement plan that will get you and your employees into a “see a problem, fix it” frame of mind.
1. Real Estate
Dedicate an area where staff can gather for short but frequent meetings to track metrics, identify improvement opportunities, and ensure commitments. Consider hanging a board in the kitchen or break room that displays specific problems you want to address and progress towards goals.
Choose employees who enjoy processes, are cross-functional, and empowered. For a restaurant, this may your manager, but also a cook and a waiter. Once you have your team, change up who runs the meetings every once in awhile. You can start with the manager, but create a rotation so that everyone is involved.
Gather around the board you’ve created to discuss the status of your metrics: Are you on target? The goal of this is to get everyone to agree to ideas, and then support them—in the back of the house and with customers.
Include target goals and discuss their progress at each meeting:
• Quality (e.g., tracking defect-free documents received or processed)
• Cost (e.g., tracking the cost per transaction)
• Delivery (e.g., tracking the productivity per full-time employee and cycle time per transaction)
• Associates (e.g., tracking training hours or number of suggestions implemented)
As team members generate ideas, track the idea and its status, and then encourage those who voice ideas to put their name next to the the suggestion.
Once you and your staff have tracked a metric and made the needed improvements, take some time to celebrate before starting on your next mission or metric.