Kaizen: Continuous Improvement of Business Offerings

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 at 11:00pm by Site Administrator

One advantage that business owners with capital have over bootstrapping entrepreneurs when developing new products or even services is the luxury of offering multiple features upfront. On the other hand, this sometimes leads to aggressive schedules and missed deadlines. Sometimes, it’s better to start with a good offering with fewer features and then continually adding more in the future. Bootstrapping entrepreneurs generally have no choice but to develop their offerings in this manner.

This concept of continuous improvement of anything is encapsulated in the word Kaizen. This is disputable, but my research over the past decade indicates that the term Kaizen is based on a Chinese Taoist concept, is actually a Japanese term, but was coined by American management specialists in Japan after WW II.

The philosophy of Kaizen is an ideal way to bootstrap life and business. Many large firms actually apply Kaizen. Or at least they think they do. Some just go through the motions.

Unless a company applies it consciously in their processes, the continuous improvement usually doesn’t happen. But a startup that’s bootstrapping their operations live by Kaizen, even if they don’t realize it. It’s a must:

  1. Design a quality product or service now, with a few essential features.
  2. Refrain from going overboard, no matter how much you want to offer such and such a feature. Just do a few things well for now.
  3. When you have more research or development capital, improve the offering.
  4. Keep repeating the cycle of improvement, until it becomes what you want. This takes longer but you have a more solid product or service as a result.

Thoughts? Are you familiar with Kaizen? Have you seen it consciously applied? It’s much easier to grab a credit card and fool yourself into thinking you have the capital you need; much harder to find the discipline necessary to apply Kaizen properly.

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1 Comment »

  1. Raj:

    Thanks for your brief post on the theory and application of ‘kaizen’ in business. I cross-posted on your piece to http://blog.innovators-network.org The Innovators Network is a non-profit dedicated to bringing technology to startups, small businesses, non-profits, venture capitalists and intellectual property experts. Please visit us and help grow our community!

    Best wishes for continued success,

    Anthony Kuhn
    Innovators Network

    Comment by Anthony Kuhn — November 8, 2007 @ 11:01 pm

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