The concept of allowing and how it can change your life

allowing

The concept of allowing is a powerful life philosophy, used to advance success, happiness, and self-development. Allowing is about letting go of resistance and accepting things just as they are. When you stop controlling all aspects of your life, you avoid forcing things into unnatural paths and you allow yourself to experience (and learn) what is meant for you. Allowing gives you the opportunity to see situations and people, as they truly are. Regardless of whether allowing uncovers the reality you desire, you can be assured that it reveals the truth. The concept of allowing, for many, is the understanding and acceptance that life has put them exactly where they need to be.

“If it’s meant for you, you won’t have to beg for it…You will never have to sacrifice your dignity for your destiny.”

Why is allowing relevant to success?

The concept of allowing is often incorrectly conflated with apathy or laziness. This reasoning exposes a very unhealthy attitude to our own success. It rests on an innate fear that if we slow down or stop pushing so hard every day, our goals and everything we have worked for will come crashing down. This type of thinking shows a lack of belief in our own abilities. Why not think that your goals will find you just as much as you try to find them?

Allowing is an immensely difficult concept to practice, especially for the target driven, workers of today. However, allowing is premised on the idea that, regardless of your incessant hard work– if something’s not meant for you, it just won’t happen. Think about it – is feeling as though you have to make absolutely everything happen in your life sustainable? Success, for some, starts with a lucky strike and for others, appears once they have overcome a mountain. However, once people reach their success “peak”, they describe a path opening and things just, “falling together”.

This is the concept of allowing – success is not meant to be one giant uphill struggle – if things are meant to work in your favor, trusting that they will, puts an end to unnecessary suffering. An action is important but it must be balanced with your ability to allow.

Allowing and self-confidence

You cannot successfully practice the concept of allowing without self-confidence. This is because, typically when we want to control every aspect of something, we innately believe that without our control, it would escape us. The deeper aspect of allowing has to do with trusting in yourself and believing that what you want to create will become your reality.

How to practice allowing

The best-selling author of “Bring Your Wholeself To Work” and sought-after motivational keynote speaker, Mike Robbins explains that allowing, is truly an art, which often goes against our societal grain. Instead of believing that hard-work and tunnel vision will get you to your goals, allowing is about keeping an inner state of flexibility, ensuring that you are not so tightly bound to your visions that you impede other opportunities, more suited to your life path.

Mike Robbins suggests three ways you can incorporate the concept of allowing into your life;

1.Understand your relationship with allowing

Firstly, you must understand how you feel about the idea of allowing. Are you comfortable with exercising less control in important areas of your life? Do you feel comfortable with uncertainty? Do you have strong enough self-confidence to believe that the things you desire will become your reality? Tell yourself the truth about how you relate to allowing, and you will be able to implement it successfully. It is, after all, designed to help you grow into your true self.

2. Pay attention to your actions vs allowing

Asses this point in terms of your biggest goals, dreams, and aspirations. How much of your energy is focused on actions, and how much is focused on allowing? While both action and allowing are important, it’s likely you’re putting a disproportionate amount of attention on the action. Increasing your focus on allowing can be an incredibly effective way for you to understand whether your goals are right for you. Do they fit into your life naturally? Do they bring you happiness? This is often the missing piece in ascertaining whether your goals will, in turn, bring you fulfillment.

3. Create an allowing habit

This is a simple, daily practice where you put your attention on allowing: accepting things as they are; trusting things are working out as they are meant to and really believing it. Remember to be kind to yourself – there is no smooth path to reaching goals. Allowing is a lot easier to think than to genuinely believe and routinely practice. However, the more attention you put on allowing, the easier it gets to embody into your life.

 

15 affirmations that will immediately change your mindset

affirmation

We are an embodiment of our thoughts. Whilst external factors do have influence over what we think, how we construe those external factors, is the most important part of our thought process. I’ve written extensively on how failure has driven many to success, well, affirmations premise on the same principle – we can’t control what happens in our life but we can control our reaction to those circumstances, it’s all down to our thinking. Life truly stems from our thoughts – we are what we think and affirmations help us to craft the life we want.

Why affirmations offer so much value

Affirmations help to purify and clarify our thoughts so that we stay aligned with our internal values. Affirmations are very powerful and actually restructure the dynamic of our brains because they raise the level of positive hormones in our brain and create “positive thought” neurons (http://www.arlenetaylor.org/brain-care/953-affirmation). This process creates, new, positive thinking channels allowing us to permanently change the way in which we think, for the better.  The word affirmation comes from the Latin affirmare, originally meaning “to make steady, strengthen.

Why we should practice self-affirmation

Affirmations strengthen us by helping us to believe in the potential of an action we desire to manifest. By saying our dreams and aspirations aloud in our heads, we instantly feel empowered and reassured by our own words. This is because we actively discount other (conscious or unconscious) negative thoughts or doubts we have attached to our goals and we finally allow ourselves to truly believe our dreams can and will become a reality. Affirmations are proven methods of self-improvement, not only do they re-wire our brain, as discussed,  but they play a crucial role in crafting our future. Thinking positively and ultimately believing in yourself opens you to a world of opportunities, one that could easily be closed, with a more negative mindset.

15 of the most impactful affirmations

So, on days when you feel clouded or bogged down because things may not be going your way, here are the most impactful thought affirmations to help you instantly change your mindset, for the long-term;

1) I am superior to negative thoughts and ill-intentioned actions

2) My ability to conquer my challenges is limitless; my potential to succeed is infinite

3) I acknowledge my own self-worth; I have no need for external validation

4) I am confident and I can handle any obstacle thrown in front of me

5) I am calm, peaceful and want the best for everyone around me

6) I am right where I am meant to be in my life, I trust in my path

7) I am intelligent and capable of accomplishing anything I desire

8) My positive attitude, confidence and hard work naturally brings me to new opportunities

9) I am grateful for everything I have in my life

10) I always make other people feel important when I am around them

11) I accept people for who they are and believe they are doing their best

12) I attract success easily into my life

13) My thoughts are filled with positivity and my life is plentiful with prosperity

14) Though these times are difficult, they are only a short phase of life

15) Today, I wake up with strength in my heart and clarity in my mind

For more about affirmations and how they can benefit your life read this comprehensive blog here for affirmations for every area of life read here 

 

Habits of highly engaging communicators

engaging

When a conversation feels like a world of opportunity, instead of a burden, you’re likely speaking to a highly engaging communicator. You could listen to them for hours. The conversation is rewarding and you feel excited the entire time. Why can’t all conversations be like this? Well, they can be for you, if you pay attention to the habits of highly engaging communicators and inject them into your own conversations.

1. They go beyond small talk

They have a twinkle in their eye when you speak to them and you can just tell they are willing to take the conversation to a different place. They go a little deeper than the surface, how deep typically depending on the recipient. The most important point here is that engaging speakers, are not afraid to take conversations outside of the norm and that is what makes them so captivating.

2. They have energy

This is a mix between animation and charisma. It’s often difficult to articulate but when you speak with them you feel energized. They give you ideas, inspiration and will take your mind to new places. They are not overboard, or obnoxious but their gesticulations, make you excited and draw you into their words until you lose track of time.

3. They make it personal

They are not afraid of taking you into their personal life. They don’t play poker, they play honesty with a dash of vulnerability and this makes them incredibly engaging. We are far more likely to relate to people when they share personal stories. We are also more likely to remember these anecdotes because during the story we relate it back to ourselves. It’s an excellent method for leaving a footprint in the mind of your audience.

4. They illustrate why you should care

They don’t just spew their story and expect you to like it, they make a point of illustrating why they are telling you this particular story. They deliver everything with meaning. They give you context and ensure to explain what the point meant for them and what it can mean for you.

5. They ask questions

Conversations are not a one-way street and engaging communicators know this very well. They won’t speak for too long without asking for input from their audience. They don’t want to monopolize the conversation, so they make sure to ask questions. Conversations should be a win/win for all those involved, not a one-man show.

6. They tell stories

The most engaging communicators are also wonderful storytellers. Stories are not only entertaining but they also help to bring context and detail to descriptions that could otherwise feel intangible. They create 3D conversations. You start to attach images to the words you hear and even take yourself into the story. I have written extensively on the value of storytelling here and how to include it in your own communications.

7. They make eye contact

Eye contact builds fire. When someone stares into your eyes, you become more present. It’s no wonder that the most engaging communicators are well versed in the art of eye contact. Not too much, otherwise it’s intrusive but just the right amount of eye contact to make their recipient(s) feel engaged and almost, special. Eye contact demonstrates that the speaker is devoting their full attention to the conversation and usually, they can expect the same in return.

The two types of self awareness and why leaders need both

self-awareness

Self-awareness is the not so new leadership buzzword. Science suggests that when we are more self-aware we are more confident, innovative and empathetic, it even enhances our communication and decision-making abilities. All of these aforementioned qualities are the hallmarks of a good leader. Those with enhanced self-awareness are more effective leaders, fact. Bold statement but it’s reflective of decades of leadership research. So, how can you enhance your self-awareness? The first step is to understand the concept of self-awareness.

Self-awareness

There are two types of self-awareness. Whilst the definition of self-awareness is not set in stone, all schools of thought identify its internal and external characteristics. Self-awareness is the clarity in which we see ourselves “internal” and also our ability to perceive how others view us “external”.

It’s easy to assume that being high on one type of self-awareness would mean you are high on the other but, this is not the case. Research suggests that leaders tend to focus on internal self-awareness and this could be their biggest downfall. Leaders who practice external self-awareness and see themselves as their employees do have a better relationship with them, feel more satisfied with them, and typically execute more effective leadership over them.

Leaders must therefore actively work on both elements of self-awareness – seeing themselves clearly and getting feedback to understand how others see them.

The self-awareness traps

To ensure you don’t inhibit your self-awareness development here are some common traps, leaders have been shown to fall into;

1. Over-confidence

An interesting statistic shows that more-experienced managers are worse at assessing their self-awareness abilities in comparison to less experienced managers. This is the over-confidence trap that many leaders fall into. Believing you know everything closes your mind to new knowledge and increases your chance of mistakes. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap, regardless of your level of experience you can always learn more and be better.

2. Introspection is not the path to self-awareness

Contrary to popular belief, people who practice introspection – the examination of our own thoughts and feelings – are actually less self-aware than others and even report worse overall job satisfaction and well-being. Why? Research shows that we don’t have access to many of the unconscious thoughts, feelings and internal influencers we seek to find through introspection. So, much of the information surrounding self-awareness is trapped outside of our conscious and if we can’t find the answers we may invent answers that feel true but are often wrong – leading to false conclusions.

How to increase self-awareness

In her new book, Insight, organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich reveals her analysis of people that have drastically increased their self-awareness.

In a series of surveys, Eurich found that 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10-15% truly are.

Eurich, thankfully for us, states to become more self-aware there only two points to address, each focusing on internal and external awareness;

1. Building internal self-awareness 

Eurich cautions against writing lengthy journal entries, these can force you to go deeper than required and attach meaning where you don’t have the answers. Instead, Eurich suggests a more practical approach of looking for themes and patterns in your work. Try to replace the “Why?” of introspection with the “What” of practicality. For example, at the end of every day, Eurich recommends asking yourself, “What went well today? What did I learn that I might do differently? Whose perspective can I get if I’m having a particular challenge?”

2. Building external self-awareness 

Eurich suggests finding a “loving critic” at work. Asking all your colleagues for feedback is overwhelming. Instead, find one person who wants you to succeed and is also unafraid to tell you the naked truth. Take them out to lunch, letting him or her know in advance what you’re looking for. To lead the conversation, Eurich suggests asking things like, “What do I do that adds the most value to our team? What’s the thing I do that’s detracting from our success?”

The self-awareness path isn’t easy but with your focus on the right things, you can be on your way incredibly effective leadership and higher overall work/life satisfaction.

 

If you are interested in finding out where you are on the self-awareness scale an incredibly useful test by Harvard Business Review can be found here.

What could your career look like without fear?

fear

Whilst typically understood as a negative emotion, fear has a purpose. It penetrates our thoughts for a reason and the more we ignore it, the more we are at risk of suffering from its undesired consequences.

Fear has become a great method of influence for many areas of society. We are continually faced with “fear ultimatums”. Politicians incite fear to win votes, governments use fear to keep society in check and parents use fear to discipline their children. Fear plays a big role in our lives.

In a career context, because we are so used to co-existing with fear we forget to monitor it. Fear-driven thoughts can sabotage our careers if left unchecked. This is because fear can alter our perceptions and reduce our desire to chase opportunities because we mistake them as “threats”- when in reality we are just scared.

Imagine what your career would look like without fear? Who could you be?  In order to break down your fear barriers, you must understand your particular fears and triggers.

Breakdown of common fears

Fear of success

Did you know that fear of success is just as common as fear of failure? Many of us have been conditioned to believe that success exists with risks such as disappointment, financial loss. competition or envy.These terms create a mental picture that success comes with negative baggage. Fear of success can lead you to unconsciously sabotage your goals. This type of fear is harder to identify than the fear of failure, mainly because it is less understood. Success is unknown territory, you might feel like you’re on a stage but you don’t know the script and that is scary. But when you really boil down your fears – fear of embarrassment, disappointment or even competition, is it really so scary? What’s the worst that can happen? Is it better to stay safe in your comfort zone, never making anything of yourself? Only you know the answer.

Fear of Failure 

This is the most commonly understood fear which inhibits the success of many. The fear of failing is often driven by perfectionism. A need to always have a perception of intelligence, control or beauty. The need to never come across as a human. The truth is that the energy spent worrying about what others think, is almost always a waste of our time. This fear prevents you from learning important lessons from mistakes, lessons that created our leaders of today. You can’t pay for this type of personal and professional growth – it’s invaluable – but your fear of failure can prevent you from paying attention. You can box yourself into being average if you decide your failure is a sign of incompetence. How you choose to react to failure will make or break your career. It can either be a lesson or a barrier, the outcome is your choice.

How to break away from fear in your career

  1. Identify every fear you have when you vision your ultimate success. Name each fear, for example, Nelson or Wilfred. Make your fears less intimidating, befriend them. Use their names to identify them when they show up, “Nelson’s back!” This will help you to consciously separate your fears from your mind when it matters most.
  2. Identify your triggers. Really dig deep and find out why you have these fears. Are you lacking in confidence? Did someone talk down to you and you let their words become your reality? Only when you face your fears, can you truly be free from them?

For more advice about how to break away from your career fears, read this useful blog @Forbes

How technology adds more hours to your day

technology

As technology evolves, so do the fears of it’s impact on our personal lives. Whilst it’s normal and at times, warranted to be nervous of how technology is going to effect our brains (and social skills) there is also another, more positive, side to the coin.

Technology can give us back some of our precious time so that we can have personal lives and a career. What if instead of viewing tech as the downfall of humanity, we considered it as a way to enhance our lives by helping us to make more time to spend with the people we love? Let’s face it, working days are not getting shorter but we can find ways, with the help of technology, to live and work without burning out.

Here are some of the ways tech can add more hours to our 24 hour day;

1. Organization

Apps like Evernote syncs all of your to-do lists, documents and reminders in one place. Helping you to never forget anything. It also gives you the freedom to write ideas and your to-do items in a safe place, where you will be reminded to execute them. Dropbox is another life-saver, keeping all your files, photos, docs, and videos in one place – you can share your files with anyone even if they don’t have an account and everything is automatically synced and backed up – it means you have access to your files, from anywhere and you don’t need to be chained to your desk when it matters most. Finally, if you’ve ever needed a personal assistant, the app 24me is for you. Your calendar, to-do lists, accounts, and documents are centralized in one place, and your errands can be completed by one tap. You can receive billing, event, and birthday reminders and even have the app pay your bills and/or send gifts to friends. The app goes as far as telling you when you should leave for your commitments based on current traffic.

2. Productivity

Ever wonder how many hours a day you waste doing nothing productive? Well, theres an app for that. Hours will track the time you spend on tasks versus the time you spend on distractions. At the end of the week it gives you a ROI of your time. This helps you see how you utilize your hours each day and eliminate any waste. For powering through your to-do list, Momentum is a focus app. It seeks to keep you focused on one task a time and if you deviate from your task, it reminds you of your working objective. It can be used for tasks, but crucially it helps you to form healthy habits for long term changes in your productivity.

3. Work/Life Balance

There are some great apps to help you strike the ideal balance between home and work, for example Way of Life helps you to eliminate bad habits that get in the way of your work/life balance such as, lack of sleep, poor diet and develop good ones instead. You create daily/weekly goals and track whether or not you are meeting them. Another golden gem is Cozi Family Organiser, the app allows you to manage and sync your families appointments and activities so that you never miss out on your child(s) special event or even story time. The app even allows you to collect memories such as favourite restaurants/recipes so that you can be there for your family, amidst workplace chaos. Other helpful apps you should download are your grocery shops app – this can simply be downloaded from their website. This allows you to order your weekly groceries, from your desk, for delivery at a convenient time at your home – saving you time and unnecessary stress.

 

 

Are these communication pitfalls holding you back?

communication

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that is has taken place.”  George Bernard Shaw

 

Communication is the most powerful leadership discipline in existance. Great leaders influence, motivate and inspire. These activities could simply not be executed on behalf of the leader without excellent communication.

Too often, leaders and professional communicators get trapped in self-deafeating tactics, and fail to influence people in line with their desired goals.

Here is a list of common communication pitfalls that typically work against us. They’re not necessarily wrong and at times, difficult to entirely eliminate but the idea is to be conscious of when you and others use them and to not let them get in the way of great communication.

1.Needing to be right

This common trap can come from an innate need to be respected. The desire to be right, at all costs, can be very destructive. You begin to close your mind to other ideas. Innovation occurs at the cross road between two contrasting ideas but if you are not willing to see any other inputs you stagnate creativity. Instead of responding with “No, I think this..” Respond with “Why do you think that?…” You can always learn from everyone around you, you just need to tweak your mindset. Further, when those around you feel included in the decision making it boosts morale and increases productivity in the workplace.

2.Being competitive

Our basic human instinct of wanting to come across as the most knowledgable can often get in the way of good communication. This tendency often interjects into conversations in the following way “I know”, or “I’ve done that too”. This can ruin communication because quite simply it’s deflating to be around someone who is impossible to impress. Remember this Zen proverb next time you feel compelled to compete, or rise to someone competing with you in a conversation, “Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”

3. Repetition instead of direction

It’s common for people to repeat and reframe when they feel they didn’t accurately get their message across. This is a redundant solution. In fact it makes your message less credible. What you should do, is be direct to the person your are communicating with, “I see that you’re not responding to this point, is there a reason?” This takes the conversation to a deeper, more connected level and equally ensures more efficient communication.

4. People pleasing

When we see another person “people pleasing”, i.e deviating from their beliefs in order to adhere to another, we immediately lose respect for them. Leaders cannot afford to loose this kind of influence. Honesty and authenticity are the key foundations for strong communication. While we all have this innate desire to have other people like us, it’s a question of degree. Ultimately, this is not a communication issue but a self-awareness issue. Leaders must be aware of how they are perceived and of what innate human drivers can hinder their influence to others.

 

How to stop negative thoughts taking over your day

negative

We all have days where negative issues or thoughts start to overtake our minds. So much so, that we can’t focus on our priorities. When something’s bothering us, getting it off our mind is easier said than done. In fact, research shows that when people tell themselves to not think about a certain topic, it makes the thoughts even more intrusive. But rehashing negative thoughts over and over in your head is unpleasant and adds no value whatsoever— it can even pave the way to chronic depression.

Luckily there are some proven strategies that help you to expel negative thoughts from your brain ASAP;

1.Take a step back

Sometimes we have worked ourselves up to such a degree that we start to think in absolute extremes. For example, “I’m definitely going to lose my job” or, “Shes definitely cheating on me”. Where is the evidence? How did we get to this extreme point? When we get to this extreme place we’ve lost all rational and the only thing we must do is take a step back. The thing we absolutely must not do is take any action when we are in this, “extreme thought” space. Take deep breaths and bring yourself down to your rational thinking point, this is the only way you can begin to focus on other things.

2. Don’t read into things too deeply

When we have negative theories or anxieties it causes us to read into every little detail, far too much, with little accuracy. They say that The Idle Mind is a Devil’s Workshop. So, if you don’t get replies from someone, or shorter answers than preferred, your brain starts over-thinking why, especially, if you have a negative theory – by doing this you exacerbate your negative thoughts. Just stop. Stop drawing assumptions without evidence, it doesn’t benefit your mental health. Just be as rational in your thinking as possible and when you start to jump to assumptions you can assume your emotional thoughts are driving you.

3. Maximize positive thinking and minimize negative thinking

Regardless of your thoughts at any one time, always ensure you have more positive thoughts in your head than negative. If you can’t reframe a certain thought, think of everything else you have in your life. Be grateful. Always try to keep your attitude in the positive zone. This mindset becomes a way of life – the glass can be half full or half empty, it’s your choice. A quote I like to remember if I feel in a bit of a slump and want to regain control is “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves”. – William Shakespeare

4. Reframe negative thoughts

Nothing is ever black and white. If you’re stuck on a negative thought, that involves a person, thinking with empathy instead of anger gives you a totally different perspective. Don’t be so set in your negative theories, people often don’t deliberately go out of their way to hurt others. Another way to reframe is to see the silver lining. How can this negative incident make you a better person? How can you grow from this? They say there is no success without failure, for a reason.

5. Don’t let negative thoughts become beliefs

Self-awareness is key. If you didn’t perform properly at work and you start to believe your own self-criticisms you will eventually believe you are incompetent. Positive people, instead believe they will do better next time. These tiny tweaks in your thinking, preserve your self-confidence and performance ability over time. Don’t be self-defeating. Monitor your negative thoughts and make sure you are not crushing your own confidence.

 

 

 

6 ways to improve your communication today

communication

Leadership and communication go hand in hand. How we communicate with others is integral to our success. Communication is a leadership skill that has multiple dimensions, verbal, non-verbal, and written, so if you want to get better at this critical skill, here are some proven strategies to learn;

1. Learn the basics of body language

Nonverbal communication accounts for 55 percent of how a public speaker is perceived. This means that the majority of what you say is communicated not through words, but through body language. Things like posture and eye contact matter. Stand tall and look people in the eye. Crossing your arms or reducing your size, in any way, communicates closed body language and a lack of confidence. Read more on body language here.

2. Get rid of filler words

Things like “Ummm” may seem innocuous but they drastically reduce the persuasive value of what you’re saying. Most of us use them out of habit. One way to get rid of them is to start keeping track of when you say words like “um” or “like.” You can also start to try to pause before you speak. Silence is not always bad, in fact, it communicates confidence and control and be assured that the silences feel longer to you, than they do to your audience.

3. Lead with empathy, not ego

When we have to have difficult discussions try to always lead with empathy. This means instead of using judgment “What you did was wrong/unacceptable”, start with “Why did you decided to do that?” or “How could I have helped you more in this situation?” or “How was this in your eyes?”. This takes you into an open and honest conversation where the other person can feel comfortable responding. This will help you to find solutions far more effectively and also build respect in those around you.

4. Listen, actually listen

One of the best things you can do to improve your communication skills is to learn to listen. So many of us are just waiting to respond. However, an effective conversation is a line of words elegantly connected with listening. So, instead of responding with “yes, but”, try and replace it with a follow-up question. Let people finish what they are saying and don’t interrupt if that is your inclination. Genuinely, listen to the speaker. These simple skills can go a long way in building trust with those around you.

5. Make your communication two way

Ask more questions and seek feedback. This is different to listening and more about keeping your mind open to input from others. The most successful people and companies are the most flexible. Asking questions about how others feel about a given topic or how they think something could be done better puts you in an active role. Asking questions is also a core leadership skill, it builds trust and keeps your mind open to innovation.

6. Create stories

Stories are powerful. They activate our brains, make presentations engaging and make us more persuasive than others. Use stories to bolster a point, “I think we should do it this way because of a time..”, use it to create trust, or prove characteristic points about yourself to a new audience for example, “I believe I can do this, because…” In its simplest form, a story is a description of cause and effect. Everything in our brain is looking for the cause and effect relationship of something we’ve previously experienced. This is simply how humans are wired. Stories help you to make your points stronger and are more memorable for your audience.

How the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen can revolutionise your work

Kaizen

Kaizen, which translates roughly to “good change,” is a Japanese productivity philosophy, used by the likes of Toyota, in their famous Toyota Production System to promote serious organizational change. The philosophy is that constant and continuous, improvement is conducive to big, long-term advancements. The Kaizen mantra is that “everything can always be improved.”

Kaizen and Market Leadership

Toyota famously embodied the Kaizen philosophy in their production warehouses. They believed that all employees should have an input into Toyota’s self-improvement, so much so, that any worker on a production line can stop the line at any time to address a perceived problem, correct an error, or suggest to management a better way to do things with the object of waste reduction and increased efficiency. The results of Toyota’s production system are phenomenal, resulting in their rapid market domination and high-profit margins. Toyota began offering instruction in the methodology to others most notably non-profit organizations with the goal of improving their efficiency and increasing their impact. After three months of working with Toyota SPB, a disaster relief organization based out of New Orleans reported that their home rebuilds had been reduced from 12 to 18 weeks to 6 weeks. Further, construction industries reported that after employing the Toyota method (Kaizen) construction errors had reduced by 50 percent.

Why Kaizen works

Kaizen means that nothing is ever seen as a status quo – there is a continuous, collective force to improve everything which results in small, often imperceptible, changes over time. These incremental changes add up to substantial long-term advancements, without having to go through any radical and often risky, innovations. It’s a much safer and employee-friendly way to instill changes that must occur for a business to be truly competitive.

How to implement Kaizen

Notably, Kaizen is a philosophy, as opposed to a methodology meaning that it can be implemented in various ways from employee suggestion boxes to more rigorous employee inclusion methods such as Total Quality Management.

The most effective way to implement Kaizen is to understand the core elements of the Japanese production system, which can and has been, successfully applied to any work environment.

Much of the focus is on reducing “waste” and this waste can be identified in the following ways;

  • Movement – moving materials (or people) around before further value can be added to them

For example, moving people to different locations for meetings when it can be done virtually or having databases of information which take time and effort to get into (such as contact details) when these could be printed and put on a wall.

  • Time – spent waiting (no value is being added during this time)

For example, enforcing prompt meetings and properly organized calls where non-attendees are reduced.

  • Defects – which require re-work or have to be thrown away

This has a lot more to do with effective delegation than employee incompetence. If a junior had been briefed properly than re-works should be eliminated – if not then it’s a hiring system failure.

  • Over-processing – doing more to the product than is necessary to give the “customer” maximum value for money

This can range from adding too much detail to presentations/document designs – streamlining decision making lines.

  • Variations – producing bespoke solutions where a standard one will work just as well.

For example, creating new documents when you could use a precedent.

For more information on Kaizen read this insightful blog by MindTools.

 

ABOUT US

PCA Law (the Personal Communications Academy For Lawyers) are the legal sector’s specialist providers of conversation-based experiential training products

We are the only Personal Communication Consultancy in the world to work exclusively with lawyers...

CONTACT US

We are happy to come in to talk with you at your offices, wherever you’re based, so please contact us at: