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The Basics of Kaizen - Continuous Improvement

Kaizen is a Japanese word, which means “gradual, and continuous improvement”. Kaizen is best known as a business management strategy focusing on elimination of waste and the increase of productivity in all systems of an organization. It has been applied in healthcare, psychotherapy, life-coaching, government, banking, and other industries. When used in the business sense and applied to the workplace, kaizen refers to activities that continually improve all functions, and involves all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers. Kaizen was first implemented in several Japanese businesses after the Second World War, influenced in part by American business and quality management teachers, like Dr. J. Edward Deming, who visited the country.

Masaaki Imai is Founder of KAIZEN Institute and as you will see in the video below has a new interpretation of Kaizen as “The process of continuous improvement, everyday, everywhere by everbody”. He makes the distinction that in many cases organizations will make substantial improvements and then coast for a while until the next new initiative is implemented rather than continually improving.

The Basics of Kaizenmultisport - Continuous Improvement in Multisport, Everday, Everywhere, by Everbody

The inspiration behind Kaizenmultisport is that the sport of Triathlon has many elements including, swimming, cycling, running, transitions, nutrition, strength training, recovery, training cycles, and psychology to name a few. Each of those elements are continually studied and analyzed at length by many talented athletes, coaches, and medical professionals to determine optimal practices in each area. Those that participate in the sport, if they are inspired, can continuously improve in each area getting faster and more efficient even as they get older. This is evidenced by some of the Ironman, and other triathlon distance world champions being in their mid to late 30’s. You can race and train smarter, more efficiently, get faster, and enjoy the process more with a Kaizen approach.

I have always been fascinated by artists, athletes, and spiritual leaders when they describe their meditative or creative process, or high performing athletic moments, with common elements that I refer to as the “zone”. The common elements are a complete focus of the task at hand and all other environmental or mental distractions are shut out completely.  I am of the belief that this “zone” is accessible to all of us, and comes from focused practice both physically and mentally. This focused practice in all areas is the continual improvement envisioned in Kaizenmultisport.   

Here is a short video from the Kaizen Institute founder Masaaki Imai describing the concept and philosophy of Kaizen.

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