26 January 2016

business, technology and office concept - two smiling businessman shaking hands in officeAs we begin 2016, many of us are reminded of the topic of “change”. The fact that everything is continually changing is reinforced to us as one year concludes, and another begins.

In recent times, I have conversed with many business owners who have told me that whilst they accept the need to change and evolve with the times, they are often frustrated at how quickly they are required to change in order to keep competitive in an ever growing market place. Some find it difficult to accept the need to change, believing that what has brought success in the past, will be sufficient to bring success in the future.

Have you ever given thought to where you stand on the subject of change? Do you see the need to change as a welcome friend, or as the barbarian at the gate?

A rapidly changing world deals ruthlessly with organisations that don’t change. For our part we need to respect the fact that a positive attitude to change is actually in the best interest of our business. Continuous change will be vital if our business is to survive in the years to come.

My top tip for dealing with change is to embrace the Japanese art of Kai Zen. Kai Zen can be described as the relentless search for a better way. In my own opinion, this should be all about providing a higher quality customer experience. I think of it perhaps as a pursuit of excellence.  When I worked as a College Manager I was responsible for the quality of teaching and learning. My title was “Continuous Improvement Manager.” For me Kai Zen is about that – continuous improvement. It keeps us reaching forward, stretching to be better in all that we do.

The main asset to any business is the staff which it employs. Businesses cannot seek to improve themselves unless they involve their employees.

When the management and staff of a business are able to buy into the art of Kai Zen, continuous improvements are usually observed as small steps forward. Think about this – to facilitate many, many small steps forward could eventually lead our business to a greater competitive advantage. Without Kai Zen, businesses will gradually become dinosaurs of their era.

I read a quote fairly recently which said that the most dangerous words used in any business are “We do it that way, because we’ve always done it that way.”

Having the mindset to work with Kai Zen in business, ultimately prompts us to find ways to get closer to our customers. Finding innovative ways to understand their psyche will enable us to examine everything that we do. It is only then that we will be able to deliver the highest service possible and exceed expectations.

The most important person in any business is the customer.   Continuous improvement is the way to keep ahead of the game. Acceptance of the topic of change precipitates continual improvement plans. These plans will form the route we need to take in order to strive for excellence. They bring focus and clarity to our operations which in turn helps us to push on and maintain sustainability.

Written by Joseph Barrell, Nwes Business Trainer.

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