Part II the kaizen way- 3 more steps for big changes

Following on from the last post (click here to read it) there are another 3 small steps that Robert Maurer describes in his book One Small Step Can Change Your Life- The Kaizen Way.

4. Solve Small Problems

When we stop and notice those small daily annoyances, making the corrections early can avoid much more painful remedies later.

This one became apparent when water was dripping through our kitchen ceiling lights in our old house. Our bathtub used to have some draining issues so we rarely used it and would just temporarily plunge the water down. However, whilst trying to half-heartedly fix the problem I had dislodged the connection to the drain pipe beneath the tub. So a few months later when our little nephew stayed over and had a bath, we were pretty close to having the whole ceiling collapse or even starting an electrical fire. Getting a plumber in and fixing the minor problem properly would have prevented this from ever happening.

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I’m fairly sure this isn’t real- but it’s not far from what you can see on the roads here

A regular problem living in Qatar is the driving and road rage created by the absolute insane people on the road. So I have recently started trying to find ways to help others on the road e.g. letting someone into my lane or stopping and helping someone that has run out of petrol. This way instead of getting annoyed by what’s going on I get waved at or thanked for helping someone else. The difference in the mood this can make for the rest of the day is massive!

5. Use Small Rewards

Instant gratification is everywhere. Games consoles and technology only add to the reward culture we now see in schools where medals can be handed out for just turning up. The remedy for this is to start stimulating internal motivation, which is a necessity for lasting change.

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A simple way to get people more intrinsically motivated is by providing small rewards. Using an employee suggestion program is quite common in most workplaces now. However, in Japan, over 90% of employees ideas are adopted compared to 38% in the US, resulting in only 25% of employees partaking in the suggestions (almost everyone contributes to suggestion boxes in Japan).

The reason for this difference can be found in the size of the rewards handed out. The US traditionally adopts a well-intentioned almost commission based reward depending on how much money their suggestion saves the company. However, it doesn’t work as planned as it encourages employees to focus only on the really big extravagant ideas. In Japan, the value of the average reward is $3.88 (compared to $458 in the US). In Japan, and particularly within companies such as Toyota, rewards are a form of recognition rather than material gain, which encourages internal motivation. (Not all companies in these countries fit this stereotype e.g. Southwest Airlines rewards good performance with a $5 food voucher.)

The same can be applied at home. A busy full-time mum may just enjoy 10 minutes to read or have a bath. A spouse may appreciate a back rub. An easy way to find out what someone else would like is to ask a small question “How do you know you’re appreciated/ loved?”

6. Identify Small Moments

In the busy technology-filled lives we lead today it is easy to pass through the days and not even notice the little things that are happening around us. Something we are consistently in awe of is the view of the sunrise from our balcony. Particularly in schools, there are so many moments, which can be very easy to miss unless we are looking out for them. Someone that is working well in a group who finds it hard to socialise or someone that has learnt to tie their shoelaces can seem minor. But it’s these small moments that add up into life-changing ones for us.

People that are most successful in making lasting changes notice the small moments regularly rather than continually strive to reach a goal.

These 6 changes remove 3 myths about change:

Myth 1- Change is hard

It can be as easy as you want it to be. Like to eat chocolate but want to lose weight? Start throwing out the first bite and eat the rest (make sure you throw out the first as I guarantee it’s hard to throw out the last!)

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Myth 2- Take big steps for big results

Research from the Mayo Clinic showed that people that were lean but never stepped foot in a gym simply moved more during the day. They parked further away from the shops, they were on their feet more often, they paced while on the phone, they used the stairs. This amounted to 300 calories a day, which can add up to 30 pounds difference over a year (without 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week)

Myth 3- Kaizen is slow- innovation is quicker

Often fixing the small problems and doing little changes can have the biggest and quickest impact (innovation often takes a big purchase that needs to be saved up for). Innovation is great when it works but how many times have you seen a celebrity lose loads of weight in a month only to get even bigger than they were before?


Credit: One Small Step Can Change Your Life- The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer

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