Spiritually Speaking – October 2020
Making a Little Improvement Every Day!
A few weeks ago, I was talking with someone who is Manager of Prudential Securities in Oklahoma City. He asked me if I’d ever heard of the Japanese concept of “Kaizen”. He explained that “It’s actually the concept that gave birth to Total Quality Management (TQM) made popular by W. Edwards Deming in the United States a few years ago.”
“The word “Kaizen” is made up of two Japanese words—“Kai” which means change and “Zen” which means good. So the word “Kaizen” means “good change”. But how do you bring about “good change” in an organization? How do you make that organization dynamic, healthy, and vibrant…and keep it that way? Here’s where the “Kaizen principle” of management comes into play.
The “Kaizen” principle of management is this: You cannot bring about positive change in an organization through momentous events. You bring about positive change in an organization through little improvements done well…day after day.
If you’re faithful in bringing about little improvements day after day, you’ll be surprised at what kind of an organization you can build over a long period of time. The great corporations of the world (public, private, and nonprofit) – have not been made overnight. They’ve been made slowly and surely, day by day, over a long period of time.
I got to thinking that this principle works in human development too! The really great human lives aren’t built overnight, so much as they’re built on little improvements done well day after day.
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord. And in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3
The Psalmist is saying: The righteous person, the one who lives a godly life and does what is pleasing to God—and finally winds up being wonderfully blessed by God, is like a tree that’s planted by the streams of water. Think about that for a moment!
Have you ever seen a tree grow? Have you ever seen it move even 1/2 inch? Neither have I. That’s because a tree grows ever so slowly and yet ever so surely. But day after day, it keeps making those little changes. In time, it really becomes a magnificent thing for us to see.
I think God wants us to know that that’s what He wants us to do
with our lives as well.
God is not interested in our making big changes that create a splash today and are gone tomorrow. He’s not interested in our doing something sensational now and then just fizzling out.
He wants us to make “little improvements everyday”, improvements that are solid and real…slowly but surely becoming the person He made us to be. I wonder what that might say to you at this time in your lives.
Recently I read an article called “The Daffodil Principle” that’s really “The Kaizen Principle” in a different form. It’s about a little church on a strip of road near Laguna, California. On the side of the church, there is a hand-lettered sign reading “Daffodil Garden”. It is the most glorious sight you’ll ever see!
The sign also says: “In 1958 a lady who lives on this property began to plant daffodil bulbs. With two hands and two feet, the woman began—one bulb at a time—to bring her vision of beauty and joy to this obscure mountaintop. She has created a sight of indescribable magnificence with beauty and inspiration. Through the years, she has planted a total of 50,000 daffodil bulbs—one bulb at a time.”
It looks as though someone has taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes! Each different-colored variety is planted as a group, so it swirls and flowers like its own river. THERE ARE 5 ACRES OF FLOWERS PLANTED THERE!
I thought that we all need to be doing the same thing with our lives as well—moving toward our goals one step at a time—until we have created something magnificent. Maybe—in our own little way—we can change the world as well!
Great trees and beautiful gardens don’t appear instantly and overnight. That same thing holds true for our lives as well. God gives us a great span of time to put our lives together. Sometimes it rains and the sun shines brightly; sometimes it storms and things go poorly; and sometimes it’s gorgeous outside.
But the real question is:
What are you doing with your life, and who are you becoming?
Dr. Norman Neaves
Church of the Servant—Oklahoma City, Oklahoma