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Kaizen, according to, is a noun meaning:

  1. a business philosophy or system that is based on making positive changes on a regular basis, as to improve productivity.
  2. an approach to one’s personal or social life that focuses on continuous improvement.

In business, this has been applied to “productivity” in a manufacturing environment: how to produce more units with greater efficiency without increasing costs. It can also be applied to productivity in a personal or team environment.

As I’ve mentioned here before, the definition of productive is “achieving or producing a significant amount or result.” We can dissect that for the manufacturing environment: “producing a significant amount,” and for personal use: “achieving a significant result.”

The ways in which people conduct themselves in their day-to-day environments are as unique and different as each individual. However, if you want to be able to manage the details of your life in the easiest and most efficient way, to get the most done with the least amount of stress, then you should approach your productivity (your ability to achieve your significant results) with Kaizen (a continuous improvement system) in mind.

Think about other “systems,” like Six Sigma, Agile software development, or even something like Weight Watchers. These are all step-by-step methodologies that leave little room for “customization.” They work when you follow the plan, and they fail when you don’t.

If you’ve been looking for ways to better manage the details of your life, you need a productivity system. Trying to stay on top of all of your responsibilities by “customizing” a set of tips and techniques that works with the way you like to do things, is a recipe for failure. Try looking for what works, instead of what works for you.

You can’t “continuously improve” while holding on to all of the bad habits that created your predicament in the first place.  What would they say to you if you walked into Weight Watchers and said, “I’d like to lose weight, but I also really like to drink soda, have french fries with my lunch every day, and have dessert after dinner every evening. So please give me a program that accommodates my way of doing things.”

They’ll give you the program, but trying to implement it while continuing all of those bad habits will be quite a challenge. You can think of productivity in the same way.

I developed and refined my Empowered ProductivityTM System with these ideas of an effective methodology in mind. The way I see it, a “coach” provides tips and techniques customized to your unique situation. A “trainer” teaches you what works and how to implement it.

When it comes to a productivity methodology, “training” is more important, which is why I am a trainer, not a coach, and I teach a complete and comprehensive system, “Empowered Productivity,” not just a collection of independent, customizable techniques. (Don’t worry, just like Weight Watchers allows you to choose from different foods with a certain point score, there is some room for customization in Empowered Productivity, too.)

If you’re struggling with managing the details of your life, or your staff is, such as drowning in emails, working all hours, feeling stressed all the time, not making enough progress on the important goals, then maybe it’s time to take a Kaizen (system-based) approach to your (or your company’s) productivity: your ability to achieve your significant results.

Thanks for reading!

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