Saturday, February 03, 2007

Kaizen, the Kokonuts Way

I like the term kaizen, with its evocation of ongoing improvement. (The folks at Kaizen Chronicles got me thinking about this. Kudos to them for quoting a Leonard Cohen song. By the way, guys, is Bo Steed a nom de plume, so to speak, of a porn star?!)

I forgot I had encountered the term in the workplace years ago, during an aggressive rampage of so-called Total Quality Management (TQM), continuous improvement, blah-blah-blah, et cetera ad nauseam. Of course, it was mostly a ruse, a vehicle for "lean manufacturing" (incidentally, we didn't manufacture anything), an opportunity to supposedly do your job better, so your position (as well as many other positions) could be eliminated, so the company could be sold, raking in oodles of money for the owners, the purveyors of "quality." (All of that did eventually happen.)

But Wikipedia informs me that true kaizen must be practiced with something called respect for people (why does Wikipedia put it in quotes, with initial caps?), or else it is something called kaiaku, which -- no surprise -- means "change for the worse."

I was wondering, though, is kaizen a polar opposite of the acceptance and resignation of zen?

Oh well.

How Now Tao Wow.

What about today?

Today my kaizen consisted of a total and complete, up and down, across and behind, under and over, cleaning of the Kokonuts domestic bathroom. Every spot. I started it because it bothered me to distraction. Not because I was asked to or was nagged or was guilty about it. (Sheesh, maybe it was because of my public letter about flirting in my previous post! (I inserted all that to see if Dr. Andrew and his legions weigh in.) (Enough already with the parentheses!) With my wife joining in, it soon became a collaborative, and rather fun, task. (Refreshingly and rarely collegial.) I told my daughter when we were done that we could eat off any surface in there if we so chose. This binge cleaning (initiated by a binge person) of course evoked evangelical and crusading thoughts such as, "hey, let's do this every Saturday!" (soon amended to "every other Saturday," since my spouse works every other weekend), almost immediately amended to "how about we just confine ourselves to this one day."

We would've enlisted the energetic resources of our young daughter, but she had an overnight guest over, so we went easy, making both of them haul out the detritus of old shampoo bottles, dusty ornamental things, and other junk.

This episode led to a spousal leisurely lunch at a North Side Italian bistro (another rare event) (daughter went with friend) (I even tried some latte; not for me), some residual soreness, a skipped afternoon nap (we were too late into the afternoon, past its nap-taking tipping point), and a fairly positive outlook on life while gazing out the window into the chilling but lambent northern sunlight.

Kaizen, the Kokonuts Way.


Dafath said...

ah, the joy of flickering bathroom lights, the lambence of it, a Venice at home with all the molded china seats and things with polychromed hinges of holes and lids
which in the morning are reduced to mere utility and target
unless of course one is as clever as Duchamp

Natalie said...

I cleaned the bathroom this weekend too, but not as well as you seemed to. I won't be eating anything off that piece of floor between the sink and the tub or behind the radiator.

azgoddess said...

ah yes - TQM -- was that total BS or what? they tried that here where i worked but it's a state institution and well, things have always been done the way they are being done for so many years -- that people got comfy with the way things TQM was a memory in less than a year