Columbus, OH — Kaizen is the Japanese practice of continuous improvement. It can be translated as “Change for the Best” and generally refers to actively improving yourself and your situation for the better on a daily basis. I’m pretty confident that everyone believes this to be a solid principle. I mean, I don’t think that anyone would truly want to live by the opposite. In fact, there isn’t even an antonym for the word kaizen.
So how can we implement this principle in our healthcare industry? It all starts with our own thinking – ourselves – the ones that show up everyday. Healthcare isn’t really an industry, it’s a collective group of individual persons who are passionate about what they do and who they are able to help. In essence, we are the kaizen of kaizens because our pursuit is to not only better ourselves, but to also create continuous improvement in the daily lives of others. In order to create improvement, inheretantly, you must produce change.
“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”
// Steve Jobs
Healthcare can make a commitment to this kind of change by making it part of their trusted process. One great example of that is something called the Shewhart Cycle:
Planning is probably the single most important thing that you can do, yet in our fast-paced society, we rarely have time for it. Establishing our goals to meet our target improvements will align us for success and generate more focus to meet expectations.
The production is typically the most exciting part. It’s what drives us who love to create, innovate and invent. We are all creatives at some level. This is the step that gets us out of bed everyday to test our imagination to challenge what is possible.
This analysis phase which is usually collected in the “DO” phase has never been easier (and more overwhelming) than it has been today. I’m sure you have heard the phase “Big Data” at some point in the last meanderings through the world wide web. This data can be collected from virtually all of your daily interactions, person-to-person and user-to-interface.
This is where Kaizen plays its biggest role. Without adaptive actions that come from analyzing every step throughout the process, true improvement cannot occur. By reflecting on the successes and failures, change will come naturally and with better results.
The Shewhart Cycle
Healthcare is the perfect place to measure imperfection. However, we must strive to continually improve our craft by changing our thinking from “what is?” to “what is possible?“ A shift toward the possible will drive innovation by tapping into the greatest tool that we possess in the healthcare industry – ourselves.