What is Kaizen?

During my MBA I was introduced to a Harvard Business Review case study titled The Toyota Way that focused on how that company had managed to improve so dramatically since originally entering the US market.

Kaizen is a Japanese word roughly translating to continuous improvement and Toyota's management had married that concept with Kakushin, which roughly translates to rapid change.

It seemed odd at first to understand how you could have continuous improvement and rapid change in the same company but the case study laid out the management philosophy and it made sense. Too often we think about things in the sense of "this or that" instead of finding ways to embrace the "and", something author Jim Collins calls "the tyranny of OR" and I have grown to agree.

Continuous improvement is how Toyota dramatically reduced their defect rate, never settling at 90%, 95% or 99%. The keep striving to improve no matter how incrementally. They however did not ONLY focus on incremental improvements, instead embracing new technology and methods with rapidity. 

As a kaizen entrepreneur, I recognize that entrepreneurship is a process that cannot be perfected and so I am continuously improving, honing my skills and learning. It is no different from playing a sport and striving to get better - you have to practice diligently.