Small Kaizen in Blogging

O.k., it is a bit obscure, but here is a great post from the Google Analytics blog on how a fanatic focus on technology may not provide intended results. Rather, a relentless focus on fundamentals is what ultimately wins the game. One excerpt from the post says it all:

"Each time the industry thinks it’s got the elephant in its sights, that five-ton peanut-eater slips away. I think it’s because everyone keeps chasing technology as the solution to pachyderm-sized conversion improvement. If you install the right mix of digital toys, then whamo you’re sure to be the next market leader in your space. Again with the pixie dust.

But it just doesn’t work that way. What we’ve learned is that the big wins come from a long series of small wins, accumulated over time. And small wins come from experienced insight and hard work. And it has to be the type of hard work that a company is willing and able to perform. Not pie-in-the-sky goals without any mechanism for implementing."

There are some parallels to Lean here. Big Kaizen events are the norm, yet, last time I checked there still exists an infamous 95% failure rate of lean implementations. Perhaps the fanatic focus on gimmicky tools to get Big Kaizen results is not the first step in a Lean journey? Perhaps building up the skills of all people to make small, incremental improvments is a better start?

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At June 21, 2009 at 3:16 PM , Blogger Mark Graban said...

This is a topic I'm very interested in, failure/success rates of kaizen events. Is 95% an anecdotal # that gets thrown around?

At June 22, 2009 at 6:32 AM , Blogger Unknown said...


95% is that infamous "95% of all lean implementations fail" number. And the mainstream approach to lean is to supply a steady stream of Big Kaizen events until the saturation point. What I can say is that for the individual, there is no saturation point when one small kaizen is completed that makes their job easier, safer or better. In these systems, the inclination is to do more because individuals are given real authority to do kaizen. If each and every individual were to do this under a structured system - now we have got something! This is why we should pay more attention to the Kaizen Teian systems where millions of improvements are made every year in a company.

At June 27, 2009 at 1:39 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Seems like the 95% number would be hard to support, though I think there have been surveys. And how would you judge failure? What would be the standard? There are a lot of companies who would say they're succeeding in lean when they're not--who wants to say they've failed?

As for the success of "lots of little" over "a few big" take a look at Norman Bodek's "Idea Generator: quick and easy kaizen.


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