Kaizen in a Lean Dojo

As a martial artist for many years, I was taught dojo kun.  “Hitotsu, jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto” the first of five guiding rules in Shotokan Karate, one of the major martial arts systems originating in Japan, practiced worldwide, and founded by Gichin Funakoshi.  Translated it means:  Each person must strive for the completion of one's character.  When recited in the dojo after each class, it was shortened to “Seek perfection of character.”

Question is:  Can this same principle apply in a Lean Enterprise environment?

People train martial arts for various reasons: Self defense, health, competition in a ring or cage, and self-confidence.  Martial arts teaches movements that can maim and kill; techniques economical and executed with the least amount of effort.

I bring up the subject of dojo kun, the responsibility of this rule “Seek perfection of character” so that I can introduce a martial arts culture that extends to business management.  As we practice and imagine being attacked, we respond with defensive techniques.  

Winning in martial arts has been thought of in several ways.  First it encourages ego and pride that border arrogance.  Second, it begins a  journey of self-development and need for continuous improvement.

Kaizen means “change” “see” or witness change.  It's a term used in scientific management called “Lean.”  Lean Enterprise incorporates a series of tools that include Value Stream Mapping, Waste identification, 5S, Quality Function Deployment and Kaizen or continuous improvement.  Other management techniques used in conjunction include Theory of Constraints, eMyth, Management By Objectives, Total Quality Management, Toyota Production Systems and Six Sigma, each creating methods of efficient and profitable workplaces.  Kaizen, a popular business management tool, helps people personally as well.  For more information refer to Dr. Robert Maurer's book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way .

As a martial artist, I’ve spent many years in a dojo; considered myself a strong fighter, excellent technician and in tune with the spirit of the art.  Several months ago, a friend and sensei I met in college now in his sixties emailed me and said that he still trains with fellow martial artists that are well in their sixties and seventies. My martial arts training of late transitioned towards the internal and esoteric qigong and taijiquan systems.  Physically, I am less stretched, limber and powerful; but, still able to strive for a goal not giving in to old age and ready to contribute, and accept all challenges. 

As a culture and way of life, through Lean Enterprise, I chose my destiny, my own purpose through continuous improvement.

Hitotsu, jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto” 

Seek perfection of character.

“If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” a well-known phrase that encourages complacency.   As a Lean and kazen practitioner, the term should be, “If it isn’t broken, what can I do to make it better?”

There is a saying that there is no such thing as perfection; however, what is there to prevent any of us from seeking perfection, making it a way of life? By the very act of seeking continuous improvement and perfection, we open our minds to some of the "muda" or waste hoarded in our own personal warehouse, excesses that holds us down, preventing us from self-actualization. Even the simple concept of compassion, which is the core of all of religions, hides behind the mass of waste called negativity, ignorance, intolerance and misguided opinions fostered by money, greed and/or the lack of it. An Asian monk asked a politician, "If the concept of money did not exist, what then would be the basis of your arguments? Would then there be room for you to consider compassion in any of your policies?"  

With these challenges and the millions of variations placed before us, our journey for perfection should be our daily objective, opening up opportunities to moreKaizens and continuous improvement.  By going forward, life through a natural process will allow us to pursue greatness: externally, internally, introspectively; in our workplace, our communities, our home, within our hearts.

1 comment:

  1. Hello!

    A Trim Lean Continuous Improvement team focusing on the execution of the Trim Lean Production Ideas or Trim Production Training at www.ame.org.

    Thanks for excellent information!