In the previous articles, we talked about the Japanese concept of Kaizen, which has been successfully applied in all areas of business for some time. We started to wonder what if we try it out in the making of digital products and services in a Kaizen way? Recall that Kaizen implies a special approach for many end-user value chain roles.
Kaizen is a philosophy that emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement aimed at continuous collaboration and commitment. This spirit of improvement affects all levels, from management, through developers, designers, to the end users.
UX has the privilege but also the difficult task of reconciling all these participants in their differences. The goal is to create an excellent end-user experience, which can be really messy as the software starts to scale.
Setting hypotheses about satisfying the needs and desires of the end user and matching them to the real possibilities of realization by the developers, all under the veil of management goals, is the everyday life of an UX designer. Sounds complicated?
It is complicated if the implementation of the change is improvised. Guided creative activity that looks at all the suggestions of participants in the chain of realization of "change for the better", according to specific steps, will facilitate the moment when UX meets Kaizen.
What is the core of the Kaizen process?
It is important to understand the core of Kaizen methodology. That is the improvement for the sake of positive business results. Such results come from increased engagement, accepting the opportunity to change the focus in business.
Kaizen brings change. Where UX design and Kaizen work through integrated processes, strong foundations or structures are created to facilitate assessment and decision making. Two basic elements hold Kaizen at the forefront of business concepts: simplification and the freedom to share ideas. On the other hand, the benefits of UX design are also twofold: UX design enhances the user experience of that product and a good user experience increases the adoption of that product.
In order to achieve the implementation of the Kaizen concept at all levels of implementation of change, all participants must apply at least part of the system that will make this concept possible. These systems include identifying problems that need to be addressed, creating strategies to solve them, and conceptualizing new ideas.
In practice, UX design and development often are linearly combinated. They make a product / service and that's the easiest part of reality implementation. When users need to embrace change and change some habits, there comes the Kaizen. Often digital platforms have an 'Admin' role, which means that admins should embrace new software and replace it with the processes they are used to. It can be even more difficult if they have designed these processes themselves and worked them for years. This is a moment where Kaizen does a lot of help with “produce/service adoption”.
How can Kaizen help you change for the better?
Kaizen can be incredibly useful for your business, as it can encourage the development of teamwork as well as of independent groups and individuals. All this leads to improved collaboration in cross-functional teams which are necessary in the Kaizen environment .
Kaizen brings to the fore the possibility of standardizing diversity in a way that is easier for all chains of change to adopt. Kaizen is useful if you are planning an improvement path that is focused on end-user needs. By adopting Kaizen, there will be no better output or innovation. You just need to create an environment in which everyone feels empowered to contribute. That's not impossible. If you feel resistance to this core idea, we just want to point out that the Pixar-multi billion business is built on it.
If your company already has a particular platform or business style that you want to change, Kaizen will facilitate the change process.
The key is to stay focused on your ultimate goal and not give up before you begin to see change being accepted. Sometimes results are not easily visible, that is why it is important to measure key data points on which we will talk about in some next blog posts.
"Until you can ladder your way down from a change of idea to a specific behavior, not yet ready to lead a switch."
Kaizen and UX design in a style-oriented approach
Kaizen focuses on the small steps. One of the strengths of Kaizen over other process improvement methodologies is the fact that it encourages you to progress towards your goals, as it is a continuous improvement methodology.
When all participants engage in digital advancement, Kaizen lets ideas for process advancements be busted, and with the freedom to research and know the end goal, the idea translates more quickly into an application, program, or digital platform. The implementation of Kaizen has many advantages, not only in the industrialization world but also in the digital world. No matter how amazing it may seem, design processes are also looking for small improvements for large projects that can make a huge difference.
Kaizen as a method of improvement is not only useful for business. Kaizen recognizes and rewards the efforts of everyone in the chain of conceptual creation and realization of that idea. This creates a sense for an ultimate vision or mission.
Kaizen is a quality improvement tool guided by the teamwork of everyone involved in the digitization process.
The greatest opportunities for improvement lie where one process overflows into another. Functional collaboration enables employees with different experiences to learn from each other and to solve problems together. In the example of UX design, this can best be seen through the collaboration between developers and UX designers. The developer will code the application according to the requirements of the UX designer, while the UX designer will need to know how the developer wants to achieve. The two positions are thus closely linked in the realization of design change. Therefore, this advantage of Kaizen is that it improves teamwork and collaboration among employees.
Kaizen enhancements improve service quality. Helps to apply new process improvements, increase efficiency, and improve time management.
This concept also creates an environment in which participants feel "good in their own skin". Participants at each level of digital transformation can make suggestions and contribute creatively to change. This is what gives a sense of belonging and value. With such an environment, there is a constant tendency of the participants to improve the creative processes and thus contribute to a better and faster result.
One of the characteristics of Kaizen is its waste reduction. In the digital world, this implies that we move fewer times along Deming's PDCA matrix. So, if we take a good look at our goal, adequately chop the plan into smaller activities, we are more likely to anticipate possible mistakes as well as steps in further realization. This will speed up the creation process and reduce possible corrections and disagreements between individual links in the chain.
Kaizen is not always the solution to all problems
Despite the advantages this method offers, there are some limitations that you need to be aware of before deciding to apply it as a management style. The implementation of Kaizen into the existing platform is basically a change in the current management system.
Once you decide to put it into action, it can be extremely challenging to go back to your previous thinking.
Another potential disadvantage is often the need to go through a complete change of tactics, which can cause problems in businesses that are not well prepared.
This concept is not easy to implement or adopt. Often, such a concept is met with a refusal under the pretext of stifling freedom and that "this is good enough now." Enthusiasm can decline and this can lead to the collapse of the concept implementation, which can lead to high costs.
Certainly, there are a few facts that confirm the shortcomings of this concept, which you should keep in mind:
- Training. The training is long and has its variations, from high motivation, through the fall of enthusiasm to the full adoption of the concept. Changing implanted habits is difficult, especially if participants in the change do not see the reason for the change or its benefits. It is important to be aware that this concept represents the philosophy of business and of seeing the creative process from another angle. It is important not to deviate from the concept that processes should be maximally efficient, with investment only as necessary.
- Resistance to implementation into existing systems. This is because implementing Kaizen equals changing existing thinking systems.
- Hard to accept change. One of the biggest drawbacks of Kaizen is that instilled habits are always reluctant to change. Both by participants in change and in the management itself.
- Application is long, often expensive and uncertain. Changing the concept of a business is not something that happens overnight. Numerous training, business organization, changing software solutions is not a harmless or cheap thing. We already did a couple of times digitalization of ''offline'' business and changing technology-oriented companies to become end-user oriented and we know that the decision to change or implement the Kaizen concept is really a strategic decision, behind which there must be firm determination and clear goals.
- The risk of "bad" changes. It should be borne in mind that processes that are constantly improving can reach the stage of being "replaced" when they are actually working well.
Yes, Kaizen has its disadvantages. But there are far more advantages. This is a concept that changes the world view. Once adopted, it becomes part of not only the business sphere within the activities of digitizing processes, but also of daily life.
In most cases, there is no mention of the implementation of the Kaizen concept when implementing the change. This process will slowly enter at all pores of the business, thus almost unconsciously accepting such a mindset, which brings benefits to every role in the creation chain. This is where UX helps Kaizen.
We are not almighty. But we can do our best to introduce this concept through changes to your business.
Contact us and let me do great things for you.
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