How often do you find yourself searching for an item you thought you left one place, only to find it in another? How many times have you gone to pour a bowl of cereal in the wee hours of he morning, only to find an empty cupboard and a dishwasher full of dirty dishes? Ever gone to make a sandwich and realize you just laid your bread onto a dirty counter?
Chances are, these scenarios are all to familiar to your kitchen.
You don’t have to be a Kaizen expert to understand its ideology and the benefits it can have on your daily routines. Kaizen is a way of life for a growing group of individuals. Its principles are quickly spreading out of the manufacturing plants that made it popular and into all facets of our life, including your kitchen.
The Japanese philosophy that originally comes from Japanese culture and Japanese practice of management, focuses on quality that is the aim of daily life. A quality that should allow for gradual and continuous improvement, while in pursuit of perfection.
Or in other words:
Kai = change
Zen = better
If there’s one place in a home that could always use constant improvement, it’s definitely the kitchen. The kitchen has become the focal point of homes. It’s now a gathering point and social area when friends come to visit. So if you haven’t already, maybe it’s time to look at some methods to improve your kitchen through the Kaizen way.
Get the most out of your kitchen
Understanding the Kaizen cycle is the first step towards transforming your scrambled kitchen into a lean, mean, Kaizen machine.
The PCDA of Kaizen:
- PLAN: Determine the objectives your tasks face. Identify the barriers and opportunities that are available. Once you have identified them accordingly, develop actions to overcome the barriers and take advantage of the opportunities.
- DO: Implement the action plans you have established.
- CHECK: Review the progress of the action plans and determine whether or not they were beneficial to improving the process. Look for deviations in the plan that would improve the process. When first implementing, this is a good time to take notes and reflect on your process.
- ACT: Determine where to apply changes that will include improvement of the process or product and implement them into the plan accordingly. Information from CHECK is essential to the ACT step.
Kaizen in the kitchen
Embedding the PCDA into your kitchen routines is learning process that will take a bit of effort on your part. But the end result is worth effort, leading you to a more productive and efficient kitchen.
To begin your Kaizen transformation, take a basic meal that you once thought was a simple, meaningless task and apply the PCDA cycle. Ask yourself these simple, but important questions next time you prepare a meal.
- Are all the items you need for your preparation clean and in an organized, convenient location to your prep area?
- Were all the ingredients labeled and in convenient locations to your prep area? Were they expired or close to expiration date?
- Was there things you could’ve prepared prior to them being needed?
- What will you do with your down time in-between tasks? Anything that can be productive towards your goal within your downtime is extremely important to your Kaizen kitchen (e.g. doing dishes, cleaning messes, prepping for later steps).
- What could you have done differently to improve any of the steps along the way?
Slow and steady wins the race
No matter where or how you apply it, Kaizen is not an overnight transformation. It takes mental and physical changes that require constant analysis and improvement.
To get the best out of yourself and your Kaizen kitchen, remember that it is a method of continuous improvement. A method that can be conquered by taking small steps along the way, while reflecting and adjusting as you go.
Making drastic changes here and there are a quick way to see short term improvements, but for a long term sustainable Kaizen transformation, the key is the little things you do to improve–EVERYDAY.