Kaizen and the event management – small steps towards perfection
In the previous post, we wrote about the most common New Year’s resolutions that event organizers usually set for themselves. Today, we are going to write how to persevere in them using the experience of Japanese warriors (1603–1868).
Nowadays Japanese people draw their motivation and knowledge of the processes of improvement from their own history, turning it into one of the most effective management models in the world. The event organizers working on conferences, workshops, training courses and other events can also use this wisdom in their everyday work.
Be like a Japanese warrior
The Secret Book of Samurai “Hagakure” contains the following message: Perfect yourself on a daily basis throughout your life, try to be better every day, more skillful than the day before, and never stop doing that. These words were uttered by Tsunetomo Yamamoto, one of the more famous Samurai of the eighteenth century, but they are extremely current today. The word “Kaizen” (in Japanese) means continuous improvement (“Kai” means change, “Zen” means good). Kaizen is a philosophy that is part of Japanese culture, manifesting itself in many aspects in both personal and professional lives. Today – transferred into the business area – it has become a synonym of continuous improvement of the organization.
In the area of management, Kaizen’s philosophy is to engage all team members in a given process to improve it using the method of small steps, through ideas reported as bottom-up. These ideas may apply to all areas of the organization. It means that thanks to minor changes, you get the chance to eliminate current problems, develop effective methods to prevent them in the future, and also contribute to the creation of space for new innovative solutions. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Kaizen and the daily work of the event organizer
For you as an event manager who wishes to practice Kaizen, the first challenge will be to open up yourself to ideas. This means careful listening to all persons and entities involved in the process of organizing events. Initially, this task is difficult: among the concepts and proposals, many may turn out to be impossible to implement, ineffective or even annoying. But there will also be those that won’t require significant effort, and finally will bring tangible benefits. It is worth continuing to encourage your team members, including volunteers and lecturers and attendees to submit proposals for any kinds of improvements.
Don’t be discouraged by the fact that some ideas may look like criticism (some may even result from it), rather approach them with an attitude that they are particularly the ones worth listening to. Remember that the persons participating in the process (on either end of it) know best what is bothering them. So they are the ones who can propose the most effective solutions. At the same time, they also need time to learn how to formulate proposals that can be implemented. Notice, that it takes time to reach the moment when improvement suggestions become part of the everyday organizational culture, but it’s definitely worth trying.
The implementation of Kaizen and making this philosophy permanent part of corporate culture requires from the event manager (or any leader) the creation of appropriate conditions:
- a sense of common purpose;
- openness towards team members and participants of events;
- appreciation of each other;
- treating emerging mistakes as opportunities and possible future strengths helping eliminate threats and vulnerabilities (weaknesses).
Interesting thing is that the ones who will perfectly find their way into kaizen are introverts: their creativity, the ability to analyze the situation and knowledge of the preferences of the participants of events can become the driving force behind changes.
Kaizen is not an innovation
Eastern Kaizen is a concept opposed to Western innovation. Innovation usually means a large, usually costly change, implemented from above (from the top down), while kaizen is a small step method, based on bottom-up ideas. At the same time, this is a difference in the perception of the organization’s operation. Innovation = focuses on the result, Kaizen = focuses on the process. In the long-term perspective, event managers practicing Kaizen can boast:
- smaller expenses related to the organization of events – thanks to a well-organized process, the organization of the event runs smoothly;
- a good harmonious team – Kaizen requires a friendly atmosphere in which members of the process can solve internal problems, which encourages cooperation and reduces rotation;
- event attendees satisfaction – small changes requested by the event attendees don’t cost much and build their loyalty.
An additional benefit is less resistance to change which is normal but can be extremely challenging. Kaizen lets you limit those difficulties. Ideas coming out of employees, members of the event team, will meet less resistance and implementation will be easier than the implementation of the big, revolutionary changes introduced by the board.
Kaizen is a philosophy that promotes small improvements, adaptive skills, teamwork, focuses on the participants of the process, and at the same time not binding with great expenditures and isn’t time-consuming. It sounds like a perfect recipe for success in the work of the event organizer. See for yourself whether consistently implemented Kaizen will lead you to achieve your goals! In the next post, we will write about what to do to make kaizen become the showcase of your organization.