Kaizen can be described as a treasure hunt, so it’s not surprising that your quest to continuously improve any process should include a map. In this case, your map is a conceptual understanding of the process you hope to improve, laid out on a canvas where “X” can indeed mark the spot.
Placing the X’s on your map is really a matter of identifying opportunities for improvement. This begins by getting everyone in the organization involved in the kaizen process, as team members will naturally have the best understanding of the work they’re closest to. Your job is to acquire the same understanding and together with your teammates determine what areas can be improved.
See. Ask. Learn. Respect.
It’s easy to start your adventure with assumptions, but if your mission is to return from the journey with results, you’ll want to leave assumptions behind. Travel instead to the front lines where work is performed, watch the work being performed, ask questions of and value the input from those performing the work, and document opportunities you observe.
Remember, “kaizen gold” is always cleverly disguised as waste. Any activity that adds no value is an opportunity to strike it rich. Unnecessary motion, idle time, overproduction, the production of defects, unneeded processing and even transportation all contribute to waste.
Kaizen gold is often wedged in the interstices between processes, at the interface between one step in a process with another. Take, for example, a production line where workers must lift boxes to move them from one conveyor belt to another higher one. There may be an opportunity to raise the first conveyor to the same height as the second, thereby eliminating wasted motion and reducing opportunity for injury – or perhaps the two conveyors could be replaced by a single conveyor, freeing the worker to complete value-adding tasks and eliminating risk of injury.
While these improvement hypotheses seem perfectly plausible, they should be discussed with the team to ensure no assumptions have been made and all impacts have been considered. Only then can the solution be tested, analyzed and standardized.
Look at the space between spaces.
On your web site, the gold-bearing veins are unearthed each time a user must perform an action along the path to conversion. This is where X marks the spot. Some common areas to examine:
Are there too many steps in the conversion process?
The best web sites make it easy for you to accomplish what you intend to do without making you jump through hoops or setting up roadblocks. Are you demanding account creation without providing an easier opportunity to engage first? How many pages must users traverse before a goal is reached?
Is the call to action visible?
For any transactional web site, every page should contain a call to action – and one shouldn’t have to hunt for it. First, it should be in color and that color should be consistent across your entire site for every CTA. The font and button style should be equally consistent.
CTA’s shouldn’t be buried at the bottom of long text blocks, should be of adequate size, and should be clear.
Does the call to action use a vibrant verb and magnificent modifier?
“Click here” just doesn’t cut it. Your CTA should convey excitement, urgency, and anticipation of reward. Evocative phrases such as “Rush My Order” or “Make Magic Happen” are good examples, but even “Get Started” could be effective. The most effective CTA’s grab a phrase from your site or convey a theme creatively and compellingly, but never obscure the intended outcome of the action. Some vibrant verbs to use: explore, create, discover, learn, grab, rush. Some magnificent modifiers: now, soon, today, free, more, before (date or time). Consider using emotionally persuasive words.
Is the call to action actionable?
It seems so simple, but just to be sure – check your CTA’s functionality. Nothing is more frustrating to a user of your web site than reaching the decision to click only to discover the button doesn’t work, the page times out, the link is wrong or they’re prevented from continuing their journey for any other reason.
Where to Find Kaizen Gold
was written by me, Greg Norton – also known as webzenkai. I’ve got more than two decades’ experience building effective websites and powerful email campaigns that yield results. Feel free to contact me regarding this article or anything else you find on this website.