EMAIL #92, 11TH, OCTOBER, 2020 - "KAIZEN & THE POWER OF CONSTANT SMALL IMPROVEMENTS"
It's time to pull the last few Weekly Email topics together by using a simple formula,
"Success = Good habits + Kaizen".
I have covered success and good habits over the last few weeks, so now it's time to take a deep dive into the secret ingredient that brings it all together called "Kaizen". Three years ago, when we created "DDB's core values", one of the first values we locked in (at my insistence) was Kaizen, a Japanese word that means "constant, continuous improvement". Kaizen is a philosophy that was widely adopted in Japan after WW2 and significantly helped in Japan's rapid social and economic post war recovery. Every Japanese worker was given the task of making tiny little adjustments and improvements to their everyday work duties. In the decades following WW2 companies like Toyota developed Kaizen into a full production and quality control system, helping them to become the largest car manufacturer in the world.
"Excellence is a by-product of the many small decisions we make each day and how we chose to act in each instance." Robert Glazer
The formula above shows that the key to success is developing good habits as well as continuing to make good decisions every day that allow tiny improvements to these habits. The result of small constant improvements on top of already good habits over time will be a substantial shift in performance and results that amount to success in your chosen field. James Clear, in his bestselling book "Atomic Habits" writes about the "the power of 1%", where if you get 1% better at something every day for a year, theoretically you will end up 37 times better by the end of the year.
"Every day we are on the verge of making those slight changes that would make all the difference."
Achieving significant goals or milestones in life is normally not the result of a single stand-alone event, but rather the sum of thousands of micro decisions where you have decided to do things 1% better. In the beginning, there is basically no difference between making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse. (In other words, it won't impact you very much today.) But as time goes on, these small improvements or declines compound and you suddenly find a very big gap between people who make slightly better decisions on a daily basis and those who don't.
Coaches of elite athletes have been using the philosophy of Kaizen for decades. One specific example that demonstrates the difference Kaizen can make to athletic performance is the "Oarsome Foursome", Australia's most famous rowing team. A few years ago I attended a seminar where the guest speaker was Drew Ginn, a four time Olympian and member of the Oarsome Foursome, (who won 2 Olympic gold medals ,1 silver medal and a total of 6 world championships). In his speech Drew explained the simple secret to their success was Kaizen. When the four rowers first joined up to have a crack at the Olympics, they were all individually very good rowers, but to become the best in the world they religiously followed the principle of constant small improvements. Every day for 2 years they changed one or two "small things or one percenters" in their training routine. Over several years these tiny changes and improvements resulted in Olympic glory and numerous victories on the world stage.
Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and be oarsome!