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Preschool, Rainbows, and Kaizen

A few years ago when my daughter was in preschool, her teacher sent home a stack of materials to use for classroom decorations. Naturally, I pretended to have a pressing deadline to prepare for, so the work fell to my wife. The task was to use the accompanying box of markers to draw rainbows on each page.

My wife saw the task, and thought of the drudgery of repetitively drawing each excruciating line of the rainbows on each excruciating page. So, I dived into my old bag of continuous improvement tricks, and went into the garage. I came out with a fixture to hold all seven markers in place so the rainbow could be drawn in one fell swoop. I just sandwiched the markers between two small pieces of wood and squeezed them with a pair of clamps. 





My wife completed the task in a seventh of the time.

The point? Kaizen doesn’t have to be some big event that takes a team to bounce ideas around. There is a time for that flavor of improvement, but often, just a bit of creativity can save a lot of effort. The key, though, is practice. The first, or second, or even the fifteenth time you try to make something better can be hard. But eventually, the little improvements will become second nature.

Don’t give up. Set a personal goal to make one thing better in your job every day and see what happens. 


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