Kaikaku or kaizen? (2)

I recently did a mail/internet survey, asking people what kind of training would be of  interest? (If you would like to respond to this, please tell me.)

Someone responded, “How about adopting a continuous improvement approach?”

Now, I don’t know what the writer had in mind exactly (although maybe I will learn more). I assumed the writer meant: “Let’s prefer small learnings that lead to small improvements over big learnings that lead to big improvement.”

So let’s play this out. In my view, training should be part of Kaikaku, which is a rapid, large, revolutionary change. In my view, there are times to make large changes, for example, when starting Agile, or perhaps a new project. There are times to make small incremental improvements (kaizen or continuous improvement).

The preferred pattern is to have occasional large kaikaku and many, frequent small kaizen.

Now, in general, I am in favor of learning closely tied to, and proven by action. Which is to say, “The learner has not learned unless the action becomes more effective.”

So, training should be used to prepare for action right away.

But let’s talk about what action is — not as simple as it might appear.

The hardest action is to change one’s own mind. The next hardest is to change another person’s mind. (Proper action in the realm of the mind can lead to tangible improvements in satisfaction for real customers.)

Let’s look at one example. Imagine sending someone who is “resisting” Agile to an Agile course. The resulting action might be no more than a willing suspension of disbelief, so that the team can move forward without active resistance. From a certain viewpoint nothing is accomplished, yet because the team can now be more functional, much has changed.


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