Gentle Bamboo Solutions

Kaizen – Continuous Improvement in Training Sessions

Chess piece climbing up blocks | Kaizen

In 2001, Toyota released its principles and ideals in a document called “The Toyota Way”. As part of that document, they talked about continuous improvement or “Kaizen”.

Kaizen comes from the Japanese words “Kai” (Change) and “Zen” (Good). The concept of Kaizen is a gold standard in manufacturing industries to make their work more effective. It involves making continuous small changes to the workflow and eliminating wastage.

Although Kaizen doesn’t directly relate to L&D, it can be loosely applied to training programs. We use the spirit of Kaizen when we design and deliver sessions.

How we apply Kaizen to Training Programs

When you start a training program, your learners don’t know you. They don’t have any reason to trust you. So if you make them work hard, they may resent you for it.

Establish trust with your learners. Create a gentle path for them, starting from the simplest questions and working up. Rather than ramping up hard, create a low staircase for them.

For example, in my sessions, I start with some context. After that, I ask people to type their name into Dextr.io. You can do the same with the chatbox of your conference tool. It’s a silly and easy question, and that is the point. You want to start with something that is so simple that it is easier to do it than skip it.

After that question, I ask them what the title of the session is. I use 3-4 questions like this that are super simple, before moving on to the “real” and serious questions.

We call this a question ladder, and you should use them in your own sessions. Start simple and work towards bigger asks from your audience. This question ladder is a very deliberate application of Kaizen.

We made a podcast about Kaizen. We go into more detail and give you 3 disclaimers and specific advice. Listen here: