It’s been a couple of weeks now since 2013 began. Are you still keeping your resolutions? If not, why do you think they have fallen by the wayside? I’m not going to jinx my resolutions by discussing them here, but this stage of the year has reminded me that one of the reasons so many people fail at their resolutions is that they concentrate on the big changes, which in turn reminded me of an approach to improving business processes called “Kaizen”.
Personally, I first saw Kaizen in action on a tour of the Jaguar factory in Birmingham (I wasn’t buying a car, I was studying their business processes, honest), but it originated in Japan in 1980s. Although it is often used in manufacturing industries, I think it has a lot to teach us in the legal sector.
The important elements of Kaizen are that
- ideas come from the existing workforce, not outside consultants
- ideas concentrate on small, not radical, changes which aim to continually improve the way work is done
It’s not about dividing big changes into baby steps, but all employees being on a continual journey of small improvements in their own work practices.
What does this have to do with your law firm and how can it help KMers?
What small tweaks can you make to your own work processes to improve them, to cut out wasted time and streamline and focus your efforts?
Similarly, can you help your fee earners to take time to reflect upon their work practices with a strategic eye and look dispassionately at their workflows, in order to think up some simple changes to improve them? Your fee earners understand their work best, but they often are too busy with their chargeable work to take time to think about processes. Often all they need is for someone to help them to take a step back and to be a little creative in their thinking.
What small change could you make right now?
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I also talk about quality management & process improvement as part of KM in my popular “KM: The Works” training session. The next one is on 28th January 2016. Find out more here.