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Kaizen

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Canfitpro, the Canadian fitness professional's magazine, had an article on the Japanese concept of Kaizen. The word implies change and improvement that is constant and ongoing.

Believers in the philosophy of Kaizen feel that sudden, highly dramatic change can often cause a backlash. Its the subtle changes that lead to lasting improvement.

The key word here is continuity. What some describe as "soft and gradual" change is an ongoing process.

This can be interesting when applied to ski instruction. Nowadays, many skiers look for dramatic, instantaneous change.

But perhaps the subtle improvments that we sometimes fail to notice are the most valuable......

[ February 15, 2004, 08:46 PM: Message edited by: Lisamarie ]
post #2 of 23
I think that matches with FastMan's persistence as a quality to make a skier....
post #3 of 23
No, I want it now, If I wanted it tomorrow I would ask for it tomorrow. [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #4 of 23
Yeah? Well I want it yesterday!

Too bad that LM is totally correct here! The garden takes time and nurturing.
post #5 of 23
Good (no, GREAT) topic, LM.

Kaizen, of course, was a component of Total Quality Management (TQM) that originated with companies such as Toyota, Sony and Mitsubishi and became a big fad among American companies in the late 1980s. Americans don't have the patience that Japanese have, nor the ability to see time as continuous. TQM doesn't fit well with the demand to deliver immediate return on investment or the practice of adjusting the size of the workforce according to the stock market.

If we present and market skiing as a lifetime sport, maybe we should spend more time and attention on the joys of each level of learning. Too many of our students believe that they haven't "learned to ski" until they have reached the highest level of lessons and the most advanced terrain at the area. They get discouraged and drop out.

The first successful straight run, turn, and stop should also be celebrated. The chance to see the view as you ski down from the top of the novice chairlift is a goal worth achieving. Gaining access to the outdoor mountain environment should be a big deal, regardless of how you "look". Every level of achievement should be its own reward, rather than a reminder that you haven't become an "expert" yet.

[ February 16, 2004, 05:15 AM: Message edited by: David7 ]
post #6 of 23
It takes a lifetime to prepare to change and a split-second to do it.

I had one of those "breakthroughs" in my skiing last week, more than 20 years after earning Level III, which some think is the summit.
post #7 of 23
I don't buy this Kaizen thing in regards to skiing. Skiing is a life long sport, and you can expect to make small changes with time. But I also thunk you have to be ready to throw yourself into new things (movements) with reckless abandon. You need to have total commitment to feeling the new movement. I think you may have to go way beyond the ideal in order to feel what you are trying to achieve and then back it off to a normal intensity for everyday skiing.
post #8 of 23
Side note: it is perhaps telling that using ideas from Japanese businesses hasn't been fashionable for at least a decade. Some say that the system American businesses were trying to emulate wasn't able to cope with sudden external change, so it was after all inferior. But that, just as the belief that concentrating on shareholder value requires short-termism, may be after all rather simple explanations.

Back to the ski-related stuff: I'm rather suspicious of any teaching / learning system that states there is only one way that people improve. We have a funny way of jumping out of the box when someone attempts hard-and-fast classification. Some individuals will progress in a succession of breakthroughs and plateaus, others slowly and continuously, and yet others may switch back and forth. I can't see the value of postulating one mode only, unless one actually does research and can say 'more than 60% of skiers seem to learn better in small steps' or whatever.
post #9 of 23
Cedric, great point on the need for research!

Also, I don't think that continuous improvement implies that there are no discontinuities or quantum leaps. Only that we constantly look for opportunities to improve and always recognize that there is room for improvement (right, Nolo?! ).

The celebration of small successes and quickly leaving behind failure and learning from it are key characteristics that tend to separate the great from the every day. When I teach, I help my students to celebrate their success, whatever it might be. Guiding them in celebrating was, for me, more key than anything else: it reinforces the movement psychologically as well as simply making the experience enjoyable.
post #10 of 23
I do agree that in skiing improvement is generally slow and hopefully continuous. In fact, I don't believe that there is such a thing as a "breakthrough" in skiing. The "skiing breakthrough" is a concept invented for the Western public, to give a sense of significant accomplishment in a short time. My opinion is that nothing in skiing is accomplished in a short time. Even when you think you discovered something "big", you either spent a lot of time building up to that point or you need much more on-snow time before that "discovery" truly becomes part of your skiing. Either way, "breakthrough" is not a good way to describe the small improvements we make (unless you are advertising something ).

The challenge is to keep the improvement continuous.
post #11 of 23
TomB, I don't know if I agree with that. I believe I understand your point, but I do think that we can have an epiphany that changes everything. In fact, I would argue that this season has resulted in a dramatic improvement in my skiing to the point that I will not be recognizable to those who have skied with me in the past. Did it happen in a split-second? No, but it did happen over the course of only about 5-10 days on snow. I view that as effectively a breakthrough. In my case, it was due to new understanding, improved motivation, and solid coaching from Level III instructors and Examiners.

I suppose it depends on how one defines "breakthrough."
post #12 of 23
ssh,

I would contend that you worked for many years to be in a position to change your skiing like that.

I still say that there is no such thing as a breakthrough in skiing. Marketing is another matter.
post #13 of 23
Nolo,

I'm intrigued, at your level what could be a breakthrough. Can you elaborate a little for us.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally posted by TomB:
ssh,

I would contend that you worked for many years to be in a position to change your skiing like that.

I still say that there is no such thing as a breakthrough in skiing. Marketing is another matter.
I will say that I have done nothing to attempt to improve my skiing for years, effectively "giving up" on improvement due to age and the enforced sedentary lifestyle of an 80+-hour-a-week technology executive. Then, the dot-burst and next thing I know I started teaching skiing! (Actually, it was a long and painful unemployment, but let's not go there, shall we? )

However, there was a series of triggers this season that sent me into the new level. That's what I view as the "breakthrough." Without that breakthrough, I'd still be skiing like I was last year.
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
When I first started skiing, I went from being terrified on an eastern bunny trail, to skiing blue trails at Whistler: in a period of about 6 days. At first I thought that I had made an incredibly fast and dramatic breakthrough. Now that I understand moree about the nuances of skiing, I realize that I had taught myself to safely, albeit defensively, get down trails I did not really have thee ability to ski. These defensive moves became a part of my regular skiing, whether I needed them or not.

For me, it is an issue, and something I am working on. But I think many people would be happy to perceive the jump from eastern green to western blue as "progress," no matter how poorly they are skiing.

I have discovered in myself what I call the "8th day factor." If I ski 2 consecutive days, then take a 3 or 4 day workshop, then ski another 2 consecutive days, everything seems to fall into place on th 8th day. Then, its usually time to go home.

Many people seem to believe that improvment in sport is finite. Its wonderful to see that incredible skiers such as Nolo can still be getting better.
post #16 of 23
TAMski,

The great thing about skiing is there is no ceiling. You can always improve. I think I learned more about skiing the past year than all the others combined, but I guess I said that about the year before that too. The more I learn, the more there is to know.

Someday I'll put what I learned last year into words and illustrate it with photos. If I do, I may want to market it.
post #17 of 23
I agree with Nolo. As a matter of course, I rebuild my skiing completely each season.
post #18 of 23
As I have noted in several other posts I'm making fairly radical changes in my skiing.

It would be akin to a "grip change" in golf which most golf professionals would agree is a difficult change.

In many ways I feel like a beginner.

It is difficult, it feels strange, when I do it well it feels great.

The quest and/or the process is a great deal of fun.
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally posted by David7:
Kaizen, of course, was a component of Total Quality Management (TQM) that originated with companies such as Toyota, Sony and Mitsubishi and became a big fad among American companies in the late 1980s. Americans don't have the patience that Japanese have, nor the ability to see time as continuous. TQM doesn't fit well with the demand to deliver immediate return on investment or the practice of adjusting the size of the workforce according to the stock market.
David7,

My wife is an MBA/manufacturing person who has worked for a variety of organizations. Her take on the "American" version is spot on with your thoughts.

She says US companies will often conduct a kaizen "blitz" attempting to make a whole bunch of changes in short order in an attempt to clean up a long standing mess.
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally posted by Rusty Guy:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by David7:
Kaizen, of course, was a component of Total Quality Management (TQM) that originated with companies such as Toyota, Sony and Mitsubishi and became a big fad among American companies in the late 1980s. Americans don't have the patience that Japanese have, nor the ability to see time as continuous. TQM doesn't fit well with the demand to deliver immediate return on investment or the practice of adjusting the size of the workforce according to the stock market.
David7,

My wife is an MBA/manufacturing person who has worked for a variety of organizations. Her take on the "American" version is spot on with your thoughts.

She says US companies will often conduct a kaizen "blitz" attempting to make a whole bunch of changes in short order in an attempt to clean up a long standing mess.
</font>[/quote]It's also interesting that most of them then say, "It doesn't work" after they've spent all of a year on it. sigh
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
But don't you find that so many of your ski students are looking for a "quick return on their investment" as opposed to "total quality management?"

Needless to say, this issue is not specific to the ski industry. Look at all the diets and weight loss schemes of the past 20 years. Every radical change of eating would at first bring dramatic results, but eventually the backlash would be equally as dramatic. I can't wait to see what happens to all these people counting how many carbos are in their tic tacs! :

Total quality management of lifestyle would bring about a more gradual, but lasting change. But it does not seem to interest many people.
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
Total quality management of lifestyle would bring about a more gradual, but lasting change. But it does not seem to interest many people.
I think I'm starting to see a change in this mindset, especially in the emerging generation (18-28 year olds). More of them are focused on significance than "stuff," which I think leads to a more wholistic perspective and recognition that growth is gradual. Some of this is undoubtedly biased by my living in Boulder, but I'm hearing indications that this may be widespread.

Regardless, it is the job of an instructor to seek out the kind of change that the student seeks, then DTS in the process of helping them get at least some of that.
post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally posted by weems:
I rebuild my skiing completely each season.
Well put.

Those who practice Kaizen (or the concept by any other name) are always willing to let go of yesterday's best turn and go off exploring for a different one today.

Continous improvemnt requires continous experimentation.

[img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
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