Using Kaizen…to Eat Sushi?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Think Draw

Kaizen, commonly referred to as “continuous improvement,” proves very helpful in many workplaces. Businesses and organizations create cultures where employees constantly look for small changes they can make to improve the way the facility operates. Over time, these small improvements can lead to significant improvements in efficiency overall.

We always enjoy hearing about unique ways kaizen ideas have been used both in and outside the workplace. This week, we came across an example of kaizen thinking in a sushi restaurant, courtesy of Mark Graban’s Lean Blog.

Graban tells the story of eating in a sushi restaurant on a recent trip to Japan. Some of his dinner companions weren’t comfortable with the idea of eating raw fish. The chef started out by giving these diners a piece of cooked fish. Next he gave them slightly less cooked fish. Then fish cooked a little bit less than that. By the end of the meal, everyone was eating raw sushi and felt comfortable doing so.

This story illustrates that over time, people who might be resistant to a new food (or a new idea in the workplace) can adapt to that new thing. Small changes—rather than one big change all at once—make the transition easier. This seems like another benefit of a continuous improvement culture: people feel less shocked by drastic change.

Visit Lean Blog to read Graban’s entire story (and to take a look inside a Japanese sushi restaurant!).

Additional Resources