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Develop your career with Kaizen

12/06/2019
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Listen to many of the big-name life coaches and gurus that populate social media, YouTube and the internet in general and you’ll hear much talk about the need for ‘massive action’, or constant ‘hustle’. If you find such talk off-putting, but still want to make progress in your career then you’re not alone. There is another way to progress your career – Kaizen.
Develop your career with Kaizen
Translated approximately to ‘good change’, Kaizen is a Japanese productivity philosophy which places an emphasis on constant, continuous improvement. Rather than being a technique- Kaizen is better thought of as a way of thinking about every aspect of your life.

Kaizen first originated in the years immediately following the second world war. Facing the prospect of completely rebuilding a shattered economy Japanese companies adopted Kaizen as a means of continually improving upon and intelligently streamlining business practices so that they could compete against their better-funded western counterparts.

But it needn’t be a company-wide philosophy. You can, in your own small way, adapt and use Kaizen in your own day-to-day career.

Here’s how.
Think small

Think Small


Contrary to the advice of the ‘life gurus’ mentioned earlier, Kaizen places an emphasise on thinking small. Identify one small element of your work that you could improve, and focus on it. It’s as easy as that! What does this mean in practice? For example, you may wish to read more about the discipline in which you work. Rather than attempting to read a book a week or some other ‘big’ goal, instead focus on reading half a page a day. Don’t worry about attempting to read more. Simply focus on completing that half page each day and you’ll naturally progress from there.
One target at a time

One target at a time


It’s natural to get excited when you’re trying a new working method and try to apply it to many aspects of your job. But Kaizen emphasises the importance of having a singular purpose. Have only one target at a time and place all of your energies into achieving that target. You may feel like you are missing out by only focusing on one target, but you’ll benefit by achieving a deep understanding of that target. Happiness comes from competence in a subject. Remain ultra-focused on one target at a time and you’ll reap the benefits of the Kaizen approach.
Act every day

Act every day


Not only should you think small and focus on one thing, but Kaizen emphasises the importance of acting every day. Kaizen is a philosophy of continuous improvement. Which means taking action every day even if you don’t feel like it. But this is where the interconnected nature of Kaizen has its benefits. If you only have one target, and it’s not too big- then it’s easier to act toward it every day. Here’s an example- a healthy mind requires a healthy body. If you decide that you want to improve your fitness in order to improve your performance at work, then you may choose to start doing push-ups. Under the Kaizen approach you would want to set a small target (ten push up a day, every day). That’s an easy goal for most people.
Write down your targets

Write down your targets


The simple act of writing down your targets helps make them more ‘real’. Make a list of the small targets that you want to achieve. Things that will add up to a greater whole and improve your career. Once you’ve written down your list you can go about the process of taking action to achieve your goals and cross them off. It’s also important that your list descends in proportion to the intensity of the goal. In other words, put the targets that are easiest to achieve at the top of the list and work your way down with the targets that are hardest to achieve near the bottom.
Take action in the morning

Take action in the morning


Whatever your target, or goal you should take action towards achieving it at the earliest opportunity in the day. So, if you’re target is to get fit and do more push-ups, then do these as soon as you awaken in the morning. If you have a target associated with your career, then try and make action towards that target the first thing that you do when you get into work in the morning. Not only is it important to take action, but to take action at the earliest available opportunity!
Just act!

Just act!


I know we’re rather labouring the point about action but please keep reading. At the heart of Kaizen lies the action of making a change- no matter how small, or singular. But the most important factor is making that change. Just act. The only way to make a change, and for it to stick is to act and act consistently. Only by driving towards your target everyday can you achieve it. Even if the action you take is unsatisfactory (i.e. only very minor and makes limited progress towards your goal) it’s still better than not taking action! As the old saying goes- don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good! Kaizen may be a Japanese philosophy, but the importance of taking action is perfectly summed up in the following quote by British businessman Joseph Cyril Bamford:

“I was once asked as the founder of JCB, what it took to succeed. “The same thing it took to get started,” I said, “a sense of URGENCY about getting things done.” The people who make things move in this world share this same sense of URGENCY. No matter how intelligent or able you may be, if you don’t have this sense of URGENCY, now is the time to start developing it. The world is full of very competent people who honestly intend to do things tomorrow or as soon as they can get around to it. Their accomplishments, however, seldom match those of the less talented who are blessed with a sense of the importance of GETTING STARTED NOW.”

Want to develop your career? You could do worse than adopting the Kaizen philosophy and acting on it today.

If you’re looking for a new job in which to use Kaizen…


…then register your resume / CV with Fircroft today and we’ll alert you to the latest engineering and technical job vacancies across the globe as soon as they become available.
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