Continuous Improvement: Your Guide to Improving Every Day

Jordan Tarver
October 7, 2020

The definition of continuous improvement, or Kaizen, is simple: a never-ending strive of daily improvement. How do you do it? You must dedicate yourself to making incremental progress every single day. While doing so may seem like an uphill battle, it's truthfully not as hard as it sounds. All you need to do is focus on becoming 1% better every day to achieve continuous quality improvement. Not 10%, not 15%, just 1 %. You're capable, trust yourself.

What Is Continuous Improvement?

Continuous improvement is the dedication to making small adjustments and changes every day while trusting that those small actions will compound into a massive positive shift in your life. You may think to improve you need to chase a large goal or make a significant change in your life, but that's not the case. If we turn our focus to making small adjustments and introducing positive habits every day, we can slowly experience the beauty of continuous improvement and avoid feeling burnt out.

Sure, small improvements may not seem like a lot in the moment, but over time they will really start to stack up and completely change your life. I get it, we all want to make noticeable shifts, but that's not sustainable. If you want to better your life every single day, fall in love with continuous improvement and start taking action today.

What Is Lean?

Lean is a philosophy of continuous improvement. It focuses on reducing wastes and improving processes within your life or work. If you choose to embody the lean philosophy in your self-improvement journey, here are some of the benefits you will experience:

  • Improve the quality of your processes
  • Reduce hiccups in your efficiencies
  • Improve the flow of your work, whether that's personal or professional
  • Simplify complex situations

How Continuous Improvement Works

As humans, we crave seeing results, big results. We want to be able to show off the work we've done and experience a visible outcome when working toward improving an area of our life. However, continuous improvement works in the exact opposite way (sorry to break the news). Instead of creating headline-worthy improvements, this process helps you seek small incremental progress over time.

We all usually love the feeling of making breakthrough progress that is visible to our surrounding network; however, there's no way to do that constantly without getting exhausted. Instead, continuous improvement will encourage you to trust that the changes you make to become 1% better every day will result in groundbreaking results over the course of time.

Drop your addiction to instant gratification and invest in small positive changes each day that will push the needle in your self-improvement journey.

Continuous Improvement Tools & Techniques

There are several over continuous improvement tools you can use to work toward improving 1% every day. Although there are multiple to choose from, find the one that resonates most with you and yields the best results. Let's cut to the chase. Here are five tools you can use to your advantage.

Plan-Do-Check-Act Model

While there are several different continuous improvement tools, there's one continuous improvement process that is most popular: the Plan-Do-Check-Act model. Following this model will help you achieve continuous improvement:

  1. Plan: Develop objectives and processes that allow you to create results that align with your goals.
  2. Do: Simply execute what you outlined in the planning phase.
  3. Check: After you complete your objectives, check what you've accomplished and compare it with your expectations. Collecting as much information as possible will allow you to find areas where you can improve your process to achieve better results.
  4. Act: From your personal evaluation or "check," take action based on the information you've collected. If your plan didn't work, go through the cycle again with a new plan. If your plan did work, incorporate that method in other areas of your life to increase your improvement.

Capitalize On What Works

Sometimes improving every day doesn't actually mean coming up with new processes, but capitalizing on the what already works in your life. While continuous improvement sets the intention to find areas of your life or work that you can make better, that doesn't mean you should forget about the areas of your life that you've already mastered.

The bottom line is this: your progress doesn't only need to rely on finding areas you can better, your progress can also rely on doubling down on what already works.

Find the Root Cause of Any Problems

Finding a solution to a complex problem is never easy. It usually involves deep thought, asking hard questions, and getting to the bottom of the issue. Finding the root cause to your problem, or Root Cause Analysis (RCA), is essential to continuous improvement. If you don't get to the root cause, then you risk never solving the problem entirely.

RCA is a practice that lets you drill down into a problem by analyzing what caused the it until you reach the last thread. For example, once you find the root cause, you should be able to solve the problem forever by removing that cause.

Implementing RCA into your life or even career involves heavy analysis. Here's a look at RCA in motion:

Problem: You keep gaining weight when your goal is to lose weight.

  • Why? You eat when you want and what you want.
    • Why? You don't care to track any of your macronutrients.
      • Why? You haven't set any limitations or guidelines to follow when it comes to your calorie intake (root cause).

Use a Kanban Board

A Kanban board is used to manage personal or professional work. They help you visually see what you're working on and how different projects are moving through your process. Using a continuous improvement tool like a Kanboard board will allow you to continually improve your process. Not only will they improve your overall process, but they will also let you:

  • Visualize your workflow
  • Eliminate any interruptions
  • Manage your work flow
  • Improve collaboratively with any team members

3 Continuous Improvement Benefits

So great, now you know how and where you can improve your life, but you still feel a little lost. Don't worry, I've been there. Here are three tips that can support your personal development journey.

1. Increased Productivity

Productivity is a measure of how efficient you are at competing a single task. When you focus on continuous improvement, and therefore smaller tasks, you can become more productive by not exhausting yourself while chasing groundbreaking improvements.

2. Improved Quality of Life or Business

Whether you choose to use this philosophy in your self-improvement journey or business, you're bound to improve the quality of either areas. Focusing on small adjustments in your life will let you live a more meaningful life, and focusing on small changes in business will help you improve your processes, products, and even customer service.

3. Reduce Overall Wastes

There's a lot of BS in life and business that all of us can cut out if we put in the effort, and that's what continuous improvement can do for you. It will allow you to become aware of the processes and habits that aren't pushing the needle forward and get rid of those wastes. This lets you focus on the tasks that will actually improve the quality of your life or work.

Bottom Line

If you're looking to improve your life or even work, focusing on making small adjustments and refining your processes or habits. Continuous improvement is a tactic I've used in my own journey, and it has led me to incredible results. This opportunity exists for you too. Are you ready to take action?

What is one thing you can adjust to improve your life right now? Let me know in the comments below!


Jordan Tarver is a lead editor at Forbes, a keynote speaker, and the bestselling author of You Deserve This Sh!t.
He’s transformed over 30,000 lives through his book, amassed more than 200,000 devoted followers, and garnered over 60 million views online. Jordan is on a mission to empower people and organizations to unlock exponential growth and expansive possibilities.

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