Small steps, big success (Kaizen)

Hello, my dear friends. Welcome to Mohanji Speaks.

In the mid-1940s, World War II ended, and many countries went into economic depression. You must have read about this in books or must have seen them in videos or television. So, many companies were on the verge of bankruptcy; some of them closed down. A similar situation happened to Toyota as well; the car manufacturing company, Toyota. They had two problems. One of them, lack of finance and the other was the management of resources. So, they did not really know how to overcome the situation. Then, they found a technique, which is called Kaizen. Kai means change and Zen is wisdom, the wisdom of change. That technique really helped them to get back on their feet. I think it was Dr Downing who proposed this technique, or this company, which I could not verify. Maybe it is wrong, but I think it was him. What he said was, you have strength already. If you use your strength well, you can overcome the situation.


The technique was very simple. One step more each day in the path of progress. That means, from where you are now, taking one step forward. Imagine all the employees, imagine that 1000 employees in the company; each of them takes one innovative step, each day. It’s 1000 steps that day. Every step forward, every improvement is one more step to progress. This method (this technique), literally got Toyota back on their feet. Later on, Canon and so many other organizations followed it, but this Kaizen technique became very popular. It means, one step a day, one step leads to huge change, I’ll explain it better.

Imagine you decided to take physical exercises. Where do you start? How do you start? So, according to Kaizen technique, take one pushup, a day. Next day, two pushups; third day, three pushups. Now in 50 days, you would have been taking 50 pushups. So, with gradual progress, one step at a time, consistent progress, you reach great distance in no time. So, this is a medicine or a remedy for procrastination, or inertia, for all kinds of situations where you don’t know what to do. When you are in a confused state, this is the right thing to do; take one step forward. Even if you cannot see the whole future, take a step forward. Thus, taking one step at a time, you reach a lot.


Kaizen technique is also known as One Minute Rule. One Minute Rule simply means ‘take a step’, wherever you are standing; one step forward. Imagine you are doing something for a period of time, take one step forward from there. That will be an improvement. This is especially good when you are in times of confusion. Sometimes, you are procrastinating; sometimes inertia takes over, sometimes depression, and various tamasic situations, no inspiration; that’s a time when you can constantly improve through taking one step forward, continuously, constantly. Of course, you should have a vision.

Vision is important. Where do you want to go, you must know, that is for sure. Personally, officially at whichever level, where you want to reach; this is very important. When you’re moving a mission, it’s a collective thought, collective vision. With the collective vision, if everybody takes one step forward and beats their tamas, with constant improvement, continuously; then you will see a huge change in the future, but how do you know that you have changed? Only when you look back at where you started from. That’s the only way you can know the progress. So, if you want to know the progress, you’ve got to look back to where you started from. And then, you will see how much you have progressed.

It’s a very important and very unique technique. Imai Masaaki has written a book about it. There are so many books actually. Imai Masaaki’s book is quite famous, and he says small steps, big change.

So, this is one of the thoughts which I wanted to leave you with today. The Kaizen technique can probably transform our lives. Take one step forward, inspire everybody to take one step forward. So, from a state of utter confusion, despair, and even a state of collapse, they brought Toyota back as a leading car manufacturer in the world. And imagine Japan at that time, after receiving two atomic bombs on its chest and huge severe economic depression, due to war, they came back in full regalia.

Please remember, in the statistics taken in 2015, about the most hard-working country or the people who work hard in each country, Mexico came top. Mexico was the first and Japan was the eighth, but look at the progress; economic progress, stability, welfare, per capita income, Japan is much higher. That’s probably because of their steady, one step at a time, progress. Slow and steady wins the race.


So, this consistency and clarity are very, very important. Clarity comes with a purpose, when you have clarity of purpose, clarity of action comes, and when you know where you’re going, i.e. if you have a proper vision, you can build the clarity, you can have clarity. Then, if you take one step at a time, it will beat the procrastination, it will beat laziness, and you can keep walking.

Each step will take you forward, small improvements and immediate improvement. This is very important. Make small improvements but immediate, not tomorrow, not the day after; that is procrastination. Right now, no inertia, 1, 2, 3, 4, like that. Each day, some improvement, and then you will reach a lot in 50 days.

So, I leave you with these thoughts. I hope you enjoyed this. Please do think about it. This is the food for thought today. This is a very practical way of improving your life.

Thank you very much. Have a great day. This is Mohanji.


Transcribed by Ulla Bernholdt

Proofread by Rekha Murali

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