It is easy for anyone to form habits influenced by his or her environment. As much as those habits take up the majority of our work day, there is an option to spend a few minutes to reflect on those processes. 

Kaizen is the Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices and personal efficiency. Practicing this idea may be challenging but its influence can be impactful. By building a habit of actively seeking improvements, day to day activities can be improved in small increments. 

For example, Store B sells wrapping paper by the sheet. It is a delicate item. Usually, an item in a store must have a barcode to scan when it is rung up. Instead of applying a barcode on to the wrapping paper itself, the manager organized a binder with samples of wrapping paper patterns paired with a barcode at the register. As a result of this Kaizen-like idea, Store B has avoided damaging the product which means a lot of money can be saved.

Effective vs. Efficient

As effective as the manager’s idea has been, demand for improvement continued. The store realized that when it is busy it takes extra effort to thumb through the binder. Identifying that choke in the process led to creating wrapping paper order forms that a customer can fill out. Theoretically this process will eliminate thumbing through the binder by providing a list of items wanted by the customer ready to be processed.

Credit: Dilbert

The evolution of wrapping paper purchasing at Store B is a great example of how efficiency is being shaped through Kaizen. Either of the solutions were effective but mastering what happens at the stores is something that can create efficiency. Furthermore, a Kaizen idea includes who the ideas will effect. The initial idea was primarily for the ease of the employee who will be ringing up the customer and also making sure the stores’ goods are not damaged. On the next iteration the customers became part of the Kaizen, further improving the process.

If you are interested in applying Kaizen techniques, feel free to give me a holler through email (

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