Project Kaizen

Bringing the power of continuous improvement to the project setting

Big Ideas Come in All Sizes

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In an earlier post I called kaizen a numbers game. I’ve often been asked to explain that. Some people have the notion that we only want the really good ideas or improvements. The little ones are just not that important. This view is particularly prominent in the project setting. Projects are discrete. Once they end the team often disperses. In the construction setting, people go back to their companies only to be reassigned to another project and a new group of strangers. It’s easy to see how someone can have the view that we don’t have the time for anything but really big improvements.

Make a small change today
So, why do we seem to think that we don’t have the time? In my experience it comes down to being overloaded and overwhelmed. Having too much to do and being in a bad mood about it is often the situation on projects. While there might be many sources for that situation, it doesn’t need to prevail for the whole project. It may only take a commitment to make today better than yesterday.

In the spirit of doing better today, the smallest ideas are likely to be the easiest to adopt and copy. These improvements are sometimes called Quick ‘n Easy Kaizen. Makng one small change is both rewarding to the person making the change and if communicated to others can lead to a widespread adoption of the improvement and the possibility that someone will improve on what has already been improved. There’s no telling what might occur if this were the everyday habit of all team members.

There’s no such thing as a small idea
One small improvement often makes the way for larger improvements by eliminating the complexity of the situation. A series of small improvements can help someone see an opportunity for a bigger change. Big ideas are often obscured by the view that “it’s just not possible to do something in today’s situation.” Make a small change today.

The title for this post came from a section heading in the book Better Makes Us Best, by Dr. John Psarouthakis.

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