Shortly after graduating from college, many moons ago, my Father gave me a book he promised would change my life. The book was called “KAIZEN: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success” and was written by a man named Masaaki Imai.
I had heard the word kaizen before and had a general idea of what it meant… but little did I know the book would indeed change my life.
You see, over the past 15 years I have been practicing various forms of continuous improvement – lean, six sigma, and TOC to name a few – and now earn my living running Gemba Academy, a company focused on teaching others about the power of kaizen!
And while the last decade has been a blast the last few days just might have been the most exciting of all as I finally had the great honor of meeting Mr. Masaaki Imai in person.
Kaizen Institute & Gemba Academy Partner Up
For those that don’t know, the Kaizen Institute, which was founded by Mr. Imai, is now a co-owner of Gemba Academy as a result of their recent merger with Gemba Research.
This relationship affords Gemba Academy an awesome opportunity to spread Mr. Imai’s wisdom and insight through our online and DVD based lean training system. We started the process this past week by videotaping Mr. Imai on an actual Gemba Walk.
We also captured a live lecture where Mr. Imai spoke about the topics of lean leadership and kaizen.
And, finally, I was able to sit with Mr. Imai for 45 minutes to chat about the time he spent with the Toyoda family and other lean giants such as Mr. Taiichi Ohno. The picture to the right is a sneak peek behind the Gemba Academy production scene! Lots of bright lights are involved!
Ohno’s Fat Cat!
One quite interesting (and funny) story Mr. Imai shared was how Mr. Ohno – who was quite the strict sensei while at gemba – was also quite fun loving outside of work… apparently Mr. Ohno even had a giant “fat cat” that he would carry around like his own child inside his home.
A Humble Man
The thing that I most taken aback by was how kind and humble Mr. Imai was (and is). Many of the so-called lean gurus of our time are not always the most humble and kind… in fact, some of them are flat out arrogant and hard to listen to. Mr. Imai is not like this at all which made meeting him all the more enjoyable.
We have several hours of video to work through and will be releasing some of it for free so stay tuned for that. Of course, if you want to see all the footage of Mr. Imai we’d love to welcome you to the Gemba Academy family.