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Improvement - The 7 I’s of Kaisen – Implement & Iterate

Last week the hoover broke. It usually stands tall with prowess at all the cleaning it had done. But this time it just lost the ability to stand up and lay prostrate and exhausted on the floor. After unscrewing various components, it revealed some broken screw holes in the casing and despite an attempt with superglue, a whole new base component was required. 24 hours later it arrived in the post and within 60 seconds the old base was unclicked and the new one clicked in place. Job done. The problem was solved and the hoover stood proud once more.


We can tend to think that improvements in business and life are just like that hoover. Investigate the problem, find a part, click it in place and then all is well. In reality, business and life is constantly moving and things constantly change and evolve. Situations that we try to resolve at work are often complex too. This is where the 7I’s of Kaisen can help, especially as we look at the last two in our series.


We have already seen that to develop a team approach of constant improvement we need to


  • Involve employees

  • Identify Problems

  • Invent a solution

  • Interrogate (test) the solution

  • Investigate the results


Today we will see that unlike the click and replace of the hoover part, we do need to implement but we also need to constantly iterate

  • Implement (standardise & adopt)

  • Iterate (Repeat the cycle)


Implement change

You would think that after the first 5 steps of involving people in identifying problems and inventing solutions that have been interrogated and investigated that at last you can just plonk the solution in place. You are about to take people through change and so you need key elements in place. Timothy Knoster developed a model of five key components that were need to successfully adopt change. Vision, Skills, Incentive, Resources and Action Plan.


  • Vision – People need to understand the reason why the change is happening and what the benefits will be. Explain what the change looks like in clear and simple ways that those adopting it can understand.

  • Skills – ensure that people know what skills they will need for this change and train and support them in those skills, so they feel confident.

  • Incentive – Help them understand the benefit to them of this change so that they buy into it.

  • Resources – Provide them with the things they need, and the people needed to make this change work.

  • Action Plan – Introduce the change step by step and clear time frames and what is happening by when.


With all of this, it is important to have a cadence of check ins and response to help ensure the implementation is smooth and any issues are addressed quickly.



Kaisen has become known for a sense of continual change. We are not after a one-off fix. This is about creating a culture where we are constantly monitoring and responding to the need to improve and grow. Many change models explore the build-up to change and implementation but very few work on a cyclical model. The Deming Wheel developed in the 1950s by William Deming does work cyclically and has the simple structure of Plan, Do, Check and Act and then indicates with an arrow to move again back to ‘Plan’.


Kaisen, like Deming, encourages us after implementation to monitor the improvement and ask ourselves:

  • What is working well?

  • What still needs to improve?


What we then move into is creating a 'Black Box Thinking' culture where we are continually looking for marginal gains for improvement. This moves us towards excellence.


Next steps

The 7I’s of Kaisen is a model of simple steps

·      Involve employees

  • Identify Problems

  • Invent a solution

  • Interrogate (test) the solution

  • Investigate the results

  • Implement (standardise & adopt)

  • Iterate (Repeat the cycle)

It’s beauty is in its collaboration and in its rigour. Just think what your organisation could achieve if it implemented it. Maybe it’s time to Initiate the 7I’s of Kaisen



If you would like help to improve things, contact us at Everyday Leader. We can empower you to gain clarity with some simple questions to help you understand and manage it better. Give us a call at 01449 710438 or email if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.




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