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Improvement - The 7 I's of Kaisen - Invent

There are very few actual lessons that I remember from secondary school. But I do remember Design and Technology (DT) lessons with Mr Price. He was not an endearing teacher; in fact he came across as somewhat grumpy and a tad scary. He was no nonsense and would have no hesitation in harshly reprimanding pupils. Despite his scary nature, I remember learning and enjoying DT and I remember learning a key skill of inventing a range of design solutions to the technological problem you face and then selecting the one that would be best to solve the problem. 


I have no idea if Mr Price was well versed in the principles of Kaisen, my guess is that he was not the most collaborative of souls so it was probably unlikely. However, this DT principle of identifying solutions and then selecting the best one fits well with the third ‘I’ of Kaisen in invent a solution.  As we saw in last week’s blog, the seven I’s of Kaisen help engage people in collaborate and continuous improvement

  • Involve employees

  • Identify Problems

  • Invent a solution

  • Interrogate (test) the solution

  • Investigate the results 

  • Implement (standardise & adopt)

  • Iterate (Repeat the cycle)


Think Wide

It is so easy to jump to the first immediate solution to a problem. Often this can be jumping on a band wagon of solutions that others have used. Having worked in education for 25 years I saw a time and again how this often led to a solution that did not work or had limited effectiveness. Mr Price, in DT lessons taught us to 

  • Contemplate a range of ways

  • Consider pros and cons of each method

  • Choose the most effective taking into consideration design, cost, ease, manufacturing, success, longevity


Of course, as a teenager I thought this skill was just for DT. However, it is key for improving things at work and life. Thinking wide allows you time to consider the issues enabling you to find the best solution. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • What is the key issue I am trying to solve?

  • What are known methods to meet this?

  • What are methods that other sectors/industries use to solve this?

  • What experience can I draw upon to help solve this?

  • Who around me may have an insight?

  • If I was at my most creative, what would I do?


Sit down with your team and ask them to help you come up with six solutions. Evaluate each one for its merits and problems. Consider the one that offers you the best.


Let go of perfectionism

The fourth principle of Kaisen is ‘Let go of perfectionism and take an attitude of iterative, adaptive change’. It is so easy to think that we need to find the perfect solution. In reality, we won’t and so it is healthier to find the best solution with all that we have in this moment that we are in. Later down the line, we can look again and develop the next part to be successful. How do we climb a ladder? One step at a time. It is the same with problem solving. Improve one step at a time. See this as a process of improvement where we gradually improve, not a big leap.


Next steps

It’s all too easy to think about a solution you have used before or that someone else has done. Why not press pause and contemplate a range of ideas? You can build this up as you adapt to this system. Start with 2 ideas. Next time try 3 ideas. Work your way up!




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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