The Meaning Behind the Philosophy of Kaizen (改善)



While the culture corner makes its first appearance, it is only appropriate to tell the tale behind our press name to our fellow readers! “Kaizen” translates to “Improvement” in Japanese, and it is a philosophy symbolizing change and development. It was a philosophy implemented in Japanese businesses after WWII, focusing on the tackling of the current problem at hand and changing small points as a part of a small-step improvement approach. It was a necessity at that time since big changes could not be done very easily due to the lack of resources caused by the war. The Americans were an undeniable influence in the said philosophy during the production of warfare equipment through improvement rather than radical changes during the aforementioned war, but it became widely implemented due to The Toyota Way. This was a set of philosophies that underlies the managerial approach of the Toyota Motor Corporation, first introduced in 2001. In fact, among their 14 philosophies, kaizen occupies a considerably big part, given as the avoidance of waste (無駄), and continuous improvement (改善). The name itself may refer to Japanese business philosophy, but the doctrine it teaches can very well influence a person’s life.

Through this realization, we named our journal “Kaizen,” by aiming constant betterment of ourselves and others by spreading knowledge and awareness. In the end, betterment can only be achieved if one is aware and knowledgeable of the flaws in a system, and since there is no system without a flaw, there is always room for improvement. As long as a person lives, they will always be able to go forward, and when they seem to lose hope in the path that they took, they will always be able to open up a new path. As Mae West says,

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

However, how do we define ‘right,’ how does a life qualify as being ‘right’? It’s ultimately an answerless question. Life is simply a process in which people create themselves, and just like a plant that strives to sprout to greater heights, humans can get better at shaping themselves to reach their ideal selves. Even if we may lose our way, we can still reshape a path on the pathless barren field that we ended up on, step by step. We, through Kaizen Journal, aim to give people hope and knowledge, wishing that a person stumbling across us may realize the beautiful potential they possess.

 

Asya Yılmaz