Here’s a thought: how fantastic would it be to boost efficiency in project management in a very straight-forward manner,  simply through taking a slightly different approach and through consistently applying a tried and tested method for improvement?

A few weeks ago, while reading up on risk management in project management, I was reminded of the Kaizen Methodology. While widespread and well-used (and sometimes also abused), it triggered the question: How useful would the Kaizen methodology be in project management and how would you implement it? 

I want to start off by saying that there is a lot more to be said on the topic than can be covered in a short blog, but sometimes all it takes is planting the seed for it to trigger a genius insight that can take you on an unexpected journey. 

 So here’s to the start of something brilliant…

What is it? 

Kaizen was first introduced in Japan shortly after WWII, most notably in the Toyota manufacturing company. 

The Kaizen key ideas are that …

According to the Kaizen methodology there is always room for small improvements. It challenges the status quo, and the process is one of daily and ongoing practice. Kaizen doesn’t subscribe to dropping a big bomb of change that scares the heck out of people, but rather it encourages small and gradual baby steps that are well thought through. As a result, change happens gradually. An extra bonus is that buy-in is a great because everybody is involved. 

There is no room for waste (Muda) .

Kaizen aims at reducing waste. This can take on many forms.

It can mean…

What can Kaizen do for Project Management? 

While Kaizen has predominantly been used in lean manufacturing companies, it’s aimed at providing a way for individuals and small teams to become super-efficient and effective at the job they do. And that, of course can be very useful in project management where budgets are always tight and timelines always at risk of being overrun. 

It’s possible to get the entire company professionally trained and coached in the Kaizen methodology. But there is no reason at all why you can’t have a go at it with your team or on your own. 

Here’s how you tackle DIY Kaizen methodology for project managers.

Kaizen and efficiency in project management.

As soon as you talk about efficiency, you can be certain that Kaizen along with Lean and Six Sigma will receive a mention. All three are business improvement methodologies and they have plenty of similarities. They are even used interchangeably and combined, but they are not the same. 

Considering that Kaizen focuses on improving the business as a whole, it is probably of most interest to project managers. From a project management point of view, the Kaizen methodology provides a framework for project managers to follow and lead to a meaningful change in both the short and long-term.