RIDING THE WAVE!
More than 150 years ago, Japan was the stage for one of the most successful national reinventions: The Meiji era warped the country from feudal complacency into a competitive industrial state. One century later, Japan was the stage for one of the most successful optimizations ever: The Kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement turned Japan’s factories into the global gold standard of manufacturing.
This whole range of change from the small step to the giant leap fits into one way of thinking change: The Japanese 3K approach of Kaizen, Kaikaku and Kakushin.
Let’s have a closer look:
Kaizen means change via continuous development and improvement. Derived from the Japanese words ‘Kai‘ meaning change and ‘Zen‘ meaning good this may be the best-known tool of all Japanese management tools to seeks progress via evolution. Look at what you do and find ways to improve it. Implement the change, then continue to work and repeat the process. Even though you will never reach 100% perfection, you will get pretty close.
Kaikaku means change via transformation. Something big, something radical. Kaikaku seeks progress via revolution. While the small-scale Kaizen measures are often found and implemented at the team level, the larger-scale Kaikaku changes usually follow a top-down approach.
Kakushin means change via creating something new. Look at what you do – and do something completely different instead. Kakushin seeks progress via disruption.
The 3 K’s of the 3K approach may look completely different (and indeed, that’s what they are), but for the Japanese, they form part of the same philosophy. Kaizen is seen as the base, the default strategy. But if its results get worse, if continuous improvement measures fail to improve, then Kaikaku is next. If the big transformation succeeds, then its back to Kaizen, small steps to optimize the giant leap. But if not, it’s Kakushin time. Reshape, renew, reinvent, whatever it takes. And afterwards, back to default Kaizen.