We have learned how to develop five-minute and one-minute managers. But we would do better to ask ourselves what it takes to be an executive who helps build a better future. (1000ventures.com. Continuous Improvement).
Societies can be developed, changed, and improved in a number of ways. It is worth noticing that societies are always made up of people, who are the driving force behind all societal development, and who are in the center of creating a culture allowing for sustainable, economic growth to take place. Geography, and natural living conditions including climate/microclimate are factors that cannot be influenced by individuals, although recent development including the fact that geoengineering in fact does have an impact upon e.g. weather conditions and global warming, demonstrates that even geographical aspects can be influenced by man, often in a rather negative manner.
This article reflects upon Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing (now combined and known as Lean Six Sigma) and Kaizen, and upon how these methodologies of improvement can be implemented not only in businesses and organizations, but also in all kinds of societal contexts in order to bring order to “chaos”, the usage of these methodologies as tools in transformation processes with the purpose of changing, improving and developing environments and societies.
Lean Six Sigma and Kaizen, methodologies of continuous improvement designed for, and relying upon, collaborative team efforts, have the common goal of improving performance through removing waste. According to iSixSigma, the roots of Six Sigma go back to the 18th century, although Six Sigma as a trademark was registered, and the techniques developed by Motorola in the late 20th century. Since then, Six Sigma has been successfully used in industries and sectors in order to improve quality, and in removing defects. Lean Manufacturing as a management philosophy centers on reducing everything that is not of value. In previous years, Lean Six Sigma has become a combined methodology using both lean manufacturing and Six Sigma. Kaizen (KAI = Change, ZEN = Good), is a Japanese practice of continuous improvement, involving everyone in the process where many small changes, when practiced by everyone regularly, eventually result in bigger, positive changes and improvements.
Illustration of core ideologies in Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing and Kaizen:
Diaz Otero (LeanImpact.org. Effectiveness of Aid to Developing Countries: How to Improve it with Diminishing Resources?) concern about efficiency and effectiveness has increased, foremost in developed countries. With major financial cuts in international aid assistance, IGO ́s and NGOs need to improve their systems and increase efficiency. Furthermore, according to Diaz Otero, Lean Six Sigma can lead to better results even in transformation projects, and in improving people’s lives in developing countries.
As an example, in Zambia, economic and social progress has been made possible through implementing Kaizen. The Government of Zambia, in cooperation with the Japanese Government, successfully imported and facilitated the Kaizen management model both in the private and public sectors in Zambia, leading to benefits in both production levels and in the quality of products. Through implementation of Kaizen, Zambia managed to rise from being a country of low-income status into the lower margins of middle-income. (saisprogramme.com. Zambia innovating its way out of poverty with the Kaizen management model).
World Vision, a global non-governmental organization established by American evangelist Bob Pierce to help children orphaned in the Korean War in 1950, has expanded and today includes community development, disaster preparation/ response, and advocacy for the poor. Transformation development programs are today implemented in almost 100 countries worldwide. World Vision, today run by business professionals, strives to integrate the best business methods in line with the organization’s values. The organization has successfully applied Kaizen, Lean and Six Sigma methodologies in East Africa. (Parris, A. 2013. Improving processes for good in East Africa).
Examples, experiences and results indicate that Kaizen, Lean and Six Sigma (or a combination of these), are methodologies leading to improvements when correctly applied and integrated into an organization or society. Applied and used by different industries, and sectors, the methodologies can be useful in many ways.
But: Are these methodologies applicable in any kind of cultural setting, and if, how can they best be integrated into societies and organizations worldwide in an effort to, and when striving for, less bureaucracy, better results, less waste, and when improving lives: in other words, when reducing factors that lead to e.g. poverty?
Certain is that people are always the driving force behind short-term, and long-term development in a society. In every state, PESTLE (Political, Economical, Sociological, Technological, Legal, and Environmental) factors have a direct influence upon how the most important asset of a nation, its people, can develop, change, and improve the society it is living in (and surrounded by).
Below a video which discusses the Problems of Societal Development from the perspective of managing complexity in modern societal-systems. In essence, according to Center of Systematic Peace, the density of communication and exchange among the members of a group add resilience and persistence to the form of a social group. Furthermore, positive group dynamics include socialization and conflict management functions.
Thank you for reading, reflecting, commenting, and considering the actions your business/organization can take to improve society.