Lessons from Kaizen in setting your goals
Kaizen is a Japanese method of goal-setting that focuses on tiny micro-improvements that lead to tangible progress over time. It’s the system employed by engineers at Toyota, for example, who operate within a culture in which continual small improvements push the company forward over time.
Kaizen is a powerful means for achieving goals because it inherently allows for flexibility. As we all know, workplaces and teams are not static entities—they are complex and dynamic systems that are in a constant state of flux. While establishing goals and milestones (i.e. “drawing lines in the sand”) is necessary to hold ourselves and our team members accountable, it’s also important to be flexible, as conditions change along the way.
Some best practices of flexible goal-setting include:
- Ensuring that the three to five priority goals are, for the most part, immovable. These are mission critical objectives that should only change in extreme circumstances.
- Revisiting sub-goals over time to ensure that they remain the best way to achieve the bigger picture goal. If there’s a more efficient means to reach a goal, amend the sub-goals as needed.
Contextualizing feedback with the big picture goal in mind. If team members are off track, explain how their lack of progress toward sub-goals affects their bigger goals. From there, provide support to overcome challenges or work together on more effective sub-goals.