There is an idiom ‘snowball effect’. It refers to a process that metaphorically starts from a state of small significance, but accelerates in size and importance eventually to create a great impact! It is seen that everybody is interested in life-changing moments, but not many realize that it is the small things that add up to create major changes.
Focusing on small things
There is always room for improvement in everybody. Whether it is learning something new or honing a skill you already have, there are opportunities to get better every day. ‘Kaizen’, as a concept for business excellence took its origin in Japan. “Kai” = change and “Zen” = good, coalescing into “change for good”. In English, Kaizen typically translates into implementing processes for continuous improvement.
Japan, although not blessed with immense natural resources and geographical size, and is plagued with frequent natural calamities; it is one of the most advanced and developed countries of the world. This status of Japan can be attributed to the adoption of the ‘principles of Kaizen’, apart from their culture itself.
Going back in the history to understand Kaizen - Sakichi Toyoda invented an error-proof wooden loom which involved a mechanism where the machine would stop whenever a thread broke or any kind of anomaly occurred. This prevented errors and defects from the final product! This concept was adopted by the management of Toyota Corporation, which encouraged staff to make suggestions, to learn from failure and make continuous improvement to increase efficiency. So, as a process, the concept can be applied to every industry from management to the workers’ level to eliminate waste and achieve highest productivity.
Kaizen for Creative Minds
Creative minds get easily bored, they hate rules, think outside the lines, and tend to make lots of mistakes. It is hence said creative minds should not be caged in skeletons. Yet, there should be a ‘method to their madness’. Even madness needs a process which can turn wild imagination into reality. Here are 10 principles of Kaizen for the people who need to be creative, professionally!
• Be proactive in proposing new ideas
No idea is a bad idea. Even if the idea is not great in itself, it may ultimately contribute towards your eureka moment.
• Eliminate unwanted details
De-clutter your mind. While new ideas and inspirations are necessary, an excess of redundant specifics and unnecessary details lead to an overload on your creativity and may even hamper it.
• Do not be afraid to make mistakes, but be open to learning from them
Creative minds are bound to make mistakes. Some mistakes are so good that you will want to keep them! Learning which mistake to keep and which ones to discard is a key skill.
• Standardize the best practices within your mind space
Inspiration strikes in the most unusual ways. If there are certain ways you get inspiration, stick to them, removing clutter from your workplace is not essentially applicable to this industry! But removing the clutter from the mind is critical.
• Don’t assume newer designs always work
Just because a design is new does not mean that it is improved or better. Understanding the requirement and practising the art of optimal usage of elements is important.
• Practice the ‘5Ws and H’ Method
Before coming up with a design or any creative aspect, ask yourself the 5Ws and H, i.e., ‘Why this design’, ‘Who are the target audience’, ‘What are the elements involved in creating the design’, ‘Where is the design going to be used’, ‘by When does the client need the creative’ – so as to work towards the deadline, ‘How are you adding value to your customer’s vision with the design’.
• Keep pushing yourself and your team to bring out the best
Working in silos works for a few, but every time creative minds get together, remember, something extraordinary gets created. Every team member and his designs/ inputs need to be encouraged and valued, for, inspiration can come from anywhere!
• Be economical and logical with your design
A good design doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated, and inversely a simple design doesn’t always communicate all that it needs to. Understand the requirement and be logical in your designing.
• Get different perspectives
Learn from other people and get some new opinions on things you can add to your creation to continuously learn.
• Never slip back to old ways
Any change is difficult in the beginning, messy in the middle but fruitful towards the end. Stick to a process sheet from conceptualization to delivery, it can be hard in the beginning but will surely be extremely rewarding, if you stick to it.
It is said, ‘today’s progress is better than tomorrow’s perfection’. Small, incremental changes done as part of everyday life can bring about required bigger changes. Being “good enough” is never the crowning achievement, our actions, processes and decisions must be improved continuously, striving for progress, innovation and perfection.