As we began 2015 we were resolute with the concept of Kaizen. What is Kaizen? While Kaizen translates just to “good change” and doesn’t really have much implied meaning beyond that, in productivity circles the term means “constant, continual improvement.” Put simply, every aspect of a band should, at all times, strive to do what it does better.
This kind of continuous improvement can be broken down into six steps:
- Standardize: Come up with a process for a specific activity that’s repeatable and organized; how we practice at home and together.
- Measure: Examine whether the process is efficient using quantifiable data, like time to complete, hours spent, etc.
- Compare: Compare your measurements against your requirements. Does it accomplish the desired result?
- Innovate: Search for new, better ways to do the same work or achieve the same result. Look for smarter, more efficient routes to the same end-goal that boost productivity.
- Standardize: Create repeatable, defined processes for those new, more efficient activities.
- Repeat: Go back to step one and start again.
Step 6 is the most important step — it allows us to go back and focus on what needs improvement and what needs to be changed. While the overall tone at rehearsals can sometimes sound negative often, it’s because we focus more on what needs to be fixed. It may seem exhausting, but once it’s part of our mental approach to band, it’ll feel very natural. If you’re always looking for better ways to do things, and you’re always willing to give them a try, it’s just a step up to formalize it and make sure everyone’s on the same sheet of music.
Kaizen is not change for change’s sake. It’s deliberate, constant improvement, and changes that don’t actually bring you rewards shouldn’t be made. Improvement is a double-edged sword after all.
It never gets easier,
you just get better.
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