Even with clear goals, great expectations, and a carefully plotted-out plan, many of us who seek to develop new habits or jettison old ones run into an immediate obstacle: One of the most difficult parts of changing is just getting started. That's why the best time to start is right away. Procrastination is the principal impediment to initiating a habit change. Large goals can seem intimidating unless broken into manageable steps. Kaizen, the practice of using small steps, can help you to avoid the threat response that frequently drives procrastination.
Although the kaizen technique is strongly associated with Japan, it actually originated with the U.S. military. Using the mantra of "continuous improvement," the idea was to make modest but steady alterations in how the Japanese businesses were run. The approach, which came to be known as kaizen in Japanese, was implemented widely and embraced enthusiastically by industries in the island nation, who would ultimately use it to transform Japan into an economic powerhouse admired throughout the world for the efficiency of its production and the quality of its products.
How did kaizen change the course of Japanese industry? It operated using six basic principles, all of which placed an emphasis on "small."