SBK022 Everybody, Everyday is the true Continuous Improvement Way.

Today’s episode is a special one as I go back to my true Kaizen roots and speak with Bruce Hamilton, the President of the GBMP (Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership), a non-profit provider of lean technology.  Bruce has extensive experience in all forms of Continuous Improvement including TPS, Lean and Kaizen, having worked in manufacturing and administration roles for a number of organisations.

Bruce is an author and actor in the 2004 video, Toast Kaizen (recipient of 2005 Academic Shingo Prize), used world-wide to introduce the basics of lean manufacturing, as well as Toast VSM (recipient of the 2011 Academic Shingo Prize).

We talk about the book he co-authored, a comprehensive multimedia training package, e2 Continuous Improvement System, the famous Toast Kaizen DVD and how this has taken a life of its own.

Bruce acknowledges the importance of having the right environment within an organisation in which ideas can be put into practice and one in which employees are not afraid to take chances.

Check out Bruce’s blog at that covers a wide range of TPS-related anecdotes.

Links :


Toast Kaizen DVD

23rd Annual Shingo Prize Conference

Gallery Image:

17 Son Grills Dad over Book

A really special episode in which my son, Tinashe, a Journalism and Communications undergraduate student, interviews me about my book, PIMP YOR BIZ, launched this week.

It was great to be in the hot seat for a change and face the music. Amongst other things, I get grilled on:

What inspired me to write The Book?

How I came up with Book Title?

A brief outline of the book itself

My reasons for opting for an eBook format

What makes my book different from other books covering similar subjects?

This young man is so smart, he managed to plug his own blog in the first minute of our interview, on my own show !

Check out Tinashe’ s Blog

For a Sneak Preview of the Book, Here is your complimentary  Download   Link.

How to Get The Full eBook Package

11 Pimp Your Biz is the title of My Book

Google Presentation at the Ecommerce expoIn this episode I announce an exciting book project that’s been keeping me busy for the past few months but nearing completion. The book is entitled PIMP YOUR BIZA Complete Guide to Improving Your Business under Any Circumstances.

If you want to be one of 10 people to receive a complimentary copy of Pimp Your Biz, simply send me a message via the Contact Us page and mention “Pimp Your Biz” in the subject field.

I also talk about the Google Introduction to Business products video which now available exclusively for Small Biz Kaizen listeners. This episode features a 10 minute teaser extracted from 1 hr. 10 min video.

In the last part, I invite you to take a look at my new studio backdrop intended for shooting videos, a sign of what’s in store for Small Biz Kaizen as we take podcasting to another level.

Links mentioned in the show

The Studio Setup Video

How to Access the Google Video Page

08 Geo Social Networks are the New Kid on the Block

The subject of Marketing, Public Relations and Social Media for Small Business is expertly covered in this interview with Chris Lee, founder of Planet Content, an online PR network company made up of freelance UK based tech PR, social media experts, bloggers, podcasters and copywriters. Chris is also behind the free content marketing blog, RunMarketing , a great resource for Small business owners.

Loads of practical tips for the small business are covered in this episode so make the most of social media platforms available today including the latest trends in Geo-Social Networking. The growth in mobile phone surfing will require a different set of blogging rules. If your business is only tweeting, don’t lag behind, get  Geo Social Networking.

My 10 Top Tips for Small Business Social Media Networking (more in this interview)

  1. Blog well and blog often.
  2. Be Creative with content – venture into podcasting and video.
  3. Ensure your audience participates in the platforms you do.
  4. Set out your objectives – exactly what you want to achieve.
  5. On Twitter, write your own tweets – don’t let someone do this for you.
  6. Don’t use the “auto thank you” responder on Tweeter to thank new followers.
  7. Get to know and use Geo Social Networks
  8. Create blogs tailored in length for both search engines and mobile phone browsing (300 -500 words)
  9. Avoid using Flash in your content – will not play on iPhone ( significant smart phone footprint)  .
  10. True to Kaizen principles, with online Marketing and PR, measure, monitor, and take action –  don’t stop improving.

Links to websites discussed in this episode

Internet Marketing Podcast


Immigration Solicitors in Northampton

Immigration Solicitors in Milton Keynes


The A-Z of Kaizen Continuous Improvement.

A is for Action Plan, without this, everything you say in those meetings is just hot air.

B is for Best Practice, a technique, process or activity in your business known to bring the most effective solution or outcome than any other applied in a similar situation.

C is for Coaching, being a mentor to someone and taking them on a personal journey in self-fulfilment and discovery

D is for DMAIC a well-documented problem solving technique based on six-sigma principles and 5 specific: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and control.

E is for Efficiency is a doing things in the most economical way, and if those things are the right things to be done then this becomes a measure of effectiveness.

F is for FMEA, Failure Mode & Effects Analysis, a fancy term for a tool, typically used in new product development, to identify potential failure modes based on past experience with similar products or processes.

G is for Gantt Chart, the project scheduling tool of choice for managing improvement projects, milestones and responsibilities.

H is for Histogram, also known as skyscraper diagram, or bar chart. It’s a series of data plotted on a bar chart representing frequency or quantity against different intervals.

I is for the Inspiration to Improve – the heart and soul of Continuous Improvement

J is for the Japanese pioneers in Continuous Improvement, Sakichi Toyoda and Ishikawa amongst them, who at the heart of the Japanese industrial revolution were instrumental in embracing the principles of continuous improvement.

K is for Kaizen, the Japanese word that simply means “Change for the Better”. So now you know where we get our name SmallBizKaizen from!

L is for Learning, a continuous need to “sharpen the saw” to ensure your knowledge thirst is never quenched.

M is for Motivation necessary to support improvement efforts. Top Management plays a vital role in motivating everyone in Kaizen.

N is for Novel Ideas, typically the birth of most Continuous Improvement successes.

O is for Opportunity, any gap between a customer expectation and what your business currently delivers. This is the very source of Continuous Improvement

P is for Problem Solving, a discipline and approach to remove obstacles and barriers preventing your organisation from fulfilling customer obligations and expectations.

Q is for Quality as defined in the eyes of the customers. Are your products and services fit for purpose?

R is for Reward and Recognition an essential part of the CI loop. Recognise the stars and the players in your team and always celebrate successes.

S is for Sustainability – The art of ensuring your hard earned improvements don’t slip back to old habits.

T is for Tracking the impact of Actions to check whether the CI has been delivered.

U is for Upper Control Limit, the upper most control limit set in a Statistical Process Control chart to trigger corrective and preventive action.

V is for Value Addition – Efforts put into any product and/or service to improve attributes and is appreciated by your customers is deemed to have added value.

W is for Waste Elimination, basically any non-value adding activities along the value chain are considered to be Waste and ought to be eliminated.

X is a difficult letter to find a word beginning with it so we’ll settle for eXcellence in eXecution wich is the art of ruthless and flawless delivery of agreed objectives.

Y is for Yoke, part of Poka Yoke the Japanese word meaning “fool proofing”, designing a product in such a way it’s virtually impossible to make a mistake using the product.

Z is for Zero Defect, the quest for perfection in everything you and your organisation does.

Photo Credit

How to Write Power Action Plans

young indian boy writingAction Plans are central to every Continuous Improvement effort as they provide clarity, visibility and a level of commitment and responsibility necessary to get things done. However, if not enough care and effort is put into compiling an Action Plan, this can seriously affect the quality of the output and dent any chances of your improvement idea ever taking off. Done correctly, the Action Plan can be an effective weapon of mass improvements.

It is entirely discretional when to use an Action Plan although typical uses include: management, project or team meetings, brain storming sessions, problem deep dive sessions, review sessions, idea generation sessions and so forth.

We have compiled a few Top Tips for crafting what we like to call a Power Action Plan. We also put together a blank template, and partially completed example to download and invite you to give the Power Action Plan a test drive.

  1. Use the header fields as per our template but feel free to modify to what works well with your business. Delete any column headings you don’t use. Only use and keep the fields that are essential for you.
  2. Where applicable, split your Action Plan into 2 sections, one for “Short Term” (to be done within the week in question) and another for “Long term” (more than a week required to complete the action). This will make it clear what needs to happen immediately.
  3. Always address your intended audience as if they were not present when the action was assigned. This will ensure the correct context of the action is provided and help avoid the “What was this all about?” type of question further down the road.
  4. Endeavour to send out the Action Plan as soon as possible, preferably on the day the Actions were assigned.
  5. Start with the most important Actions, by using the pain vs. gain prioritisation technique. Actions with bigger impact and requiring lesser effort being the highest ranked.
  6. Group related actions together and create different Action categories where you have a lot of actions.
  7. If you use a meeting room, consider using a whiteboard demarcated as per the template. At the end of the meeting, simply take a digital photo of the completed whiteboard and email it to all assigned action owners. No double handling, no typing, no waste – typical Continuous Improvement!
  8. Always start the actual action statement with a verb. A verb is called an “action word” for a reason! This makes it clear from the onset exactly what needs to be done.
  9. Assign a unique number for each Action. This will make it so much easier during discussions. If you refer to Action X12, everyone immediately knows which one you’re talking about as opposed to explaining the action or reading it out – saves you a bit of time.

For a blank  template click here to  Download  the file

To see a mocked up example your Download  is here

We’d love to hear your comments and feedback on an this or other equally effective Action Plan formats.

If you’d like to find out more about Power Templates such as This Action Plan, please check out my Continuous Improvement Toolkit that is guaranteed to bring you great Business Improvement Results.

For even more detailed approaches to Continuous Improvement, you can check out my eBook “Continuous Improvement Manifesto – The Ultimate Guide To Business Value Creation” 

Image: Arvind Balaraman /

Continuous Improvement Process needs a Checkpoint

Is Your Business Improvement Ready ?

Whilst every business wants to improve performance month on month, year on year, the reality is not all businesses have the basics in place to allow continuous improvement to take place naturally. A lot of this boils down to basic essentials such as management commitment and the approach in embracing this way of doing business. In this video we look at a quick way check and assess how ready your business is to deliver change.  After watching the video, we recommend you download the “Action Sheet” to get your improvement journey on the road or back on it.

Your Download link .

Image: Gregory Szarkiewicz /

Continuous Improvement Principles Always hold True.

Kaizen Continuous Improvement

Principles is the subject of this very first episode of the SmallBizKaizen Podcast hosted by Brian Venge. The podcast is targeted at entrepreneurs and small business as an inspiration and motivation to adopt the Continuous Improvement principles as a central part of any business strategy. If your business is struggling to find ways to get out of the recession, or seeking to make improvements to drive growth and profits then this podcast is for you.  Brian has spent the last 20 years working for 4 multinational corporations, Nestle, Unilever, CMB & Vodafone in the fields  of quality management, change management , strategy deployment  and continuous improvement.He draws attention to a reality check by concluding that the secret to success in Continuous Improvement boils down to 3 factors: simplicity, principles and a good business sense.

As mentioned in the cast, if you want to learn more about podcasting, check out the Andy White website.

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Take a listen and enjoy.