Kaizen

This post is also available in: Spanish

There was a program on TVE whose theme song said that everything can be found in books, and it happens frequently to me. It was in a book where I read the word “kaizen” for the first time. I could have heard it in one of my classes while doing my business degree because according to Wikipedia it is a concept closely related to processes of ongoing improvement in industry. However, if it was explained then, I don´t remember it. Today it comes to mind when starting the second part of the course at my university.

 Kaizen is a Japanese word, so it is not easy to find a term in other languages that captures its meaning accurately. In this sense, apart from its refence to ongoing improvement, to personalize the expression it could be interpreted as ongoing self-development. Attracted by this idea, I have decided to put forward this idea in my first class.

Frequently when I start a new course I like to motivate my students with an idea or slogan which will keep us focused on our daily work and, at the same time, give deeper meaning to each little activity that contributes to the end goal.  Up to now, I have used motivating videos by Luis Galindo many times; and lately, I have started using these videos alongside the story told by Jim Yong Kim that starts at minute 22 of his TedTalk. After the story, I say to them that any student in my class could become president of the World Bank.

However, this time I am going to change and present the idea of kaizen to them. My intention is that, during the course, each time they finish a task, they stop and think if it could have been done a little bit better. Through this process, I hope to bring out their best, with effort, without stopping at the minimum required; encouraging them to look for more alternatives outside their comfort zone, and in doing so, look at every result with a new perspective. At the same time, I will do the same.

Apart from the list of values which we refer to when teaching, this time, we will have in mind the idea of Kaizen, and we will see what happens. And you, dear reader and friends, do you fancy joining us in applying this idea? Do you want to try it with little gestures?

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