Kaizen: The Power of Small Changes for Strategic Goal Planning

Kaizen: The Power of Small Changes for Strategic Goal Planning
Marketing Director

With the sea of changes facing the healthcare industry, there is never a dull moment for human resources leaders. Whether the focus is nurturing employee engagement in shifting landscapes or maintaining a compliant and effective talent screening program, the plethora of initiatives under healthcare HR’s oversight can be overwhelming.

In a previous article, I discussed how an analog system like a Bullet Journal can be a highly effective tool for strategic planning. The concept of Kaizen, however, is one that you can apply to any aspect of your life, regardless of which planning methodology you use.

Here’s what you need to know to make your goals more manageable and attainable.

What is Kaizen and Why is it Relevant?

Stephanie Staples, an author and business consultant, first introduced me to the concept of Kaizen during her keynote at the 2016 National Association for Health Care Recruitment (NAHCR) IMAGE Conference. “The word ‘kaizen’ means small, continuous improvement,” Staples explained to attendees. “What small things can you do constantly to lean into your goals?”

Kaizen, however, is a Japanese practice originally introduced to the West by Masaaki Imai in 1986. According to the Kaizen Institute, the practice is recognized worldwide as an important pillar of an organization’s long-term competitive strategy. In particular, Kaizen emphasizes that “big results come from many small changes accumulated over time.” Its principles are among the key tenets of lean management strategies that have become increasingly relevant for healthcare in recent years.

Why Small Changes Can Make a Big Impact

When you realize that multiple small changes can yield desired results, goal planning becomes much less overwhelming. For example, if your ultimate goal is to improve employee engagement, the end result can seem intimidating at first glance. Breaking the goal into smaller steps, however, can help you make attaining the goal more manageable and actionable.

If actions drive results, then making progress towards your goals becomes more straightforward by creating an action plan. “A ‘goal’ is too abstract and far reaching and as a result it becomes elusive,” John Brubaker, a performance consultant, comments in an article for Entrepreneur. “Focus on achieving small daily wins,” he says.

How to Apply Kaizen to Your Planning

Once you understand the principles of Kaizen, goal planning becomes much easier. As Brubaker suggests, achieving small daily wins can help you make constant, steady progress towards your goals. Here are a few tips to help you get started with applying kaizen in your planning:

  • Make sure your goals are measurable: If you have trouble meeting your goals, you may need to revise them. You can only improve what you can measure, so make sure you select at least one key metric that you can use to assess your progress.
  • Review your progress often: Once you have measurable goals, remember to check on your progress frequently. At minimum, make sure you conduct at least quarterly reviews for long-term, high level initiatives.
  • Break down goals into monthly, weekly, and daily components: Kaizen calls for small, continuous changes that drive results. Make sure that you can keep the momentum going by breaking down your goals into monthly, weekly, and daily chunks.
  • Use a bullet journal or other project management tool: Using the right tools can ensure you keep everything in perspective and ensure you remain focused on achieving your goals. Personally, I’ve been using a bullet journal to track my goals with monthly, weekly, and daily spreads. The daily spreads can give you a chance to ensure you make the best use of your time each day.

These are just a few helpful tips to get you started, but whichever method you use, applying Kaizen can help you achieve your goals more effectively.  

The healthcare industry’s changes will remain constant, making productivity challenging with competing initiatives for healthcare HR. By using the concept of Kaizen, however, you can accomplish even the most ambitious projects if you break them down into measurable, achievable, and more manageable steps.

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