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Lifehacker site tackles the modern "Kaizen"

A few months back, big-name web site Lifehacker offered Get Better at Getting Better: The Kaizen Productivity Philosophy, a look at a word I've written much about. In a rare move for such an article, the Lifehacker author nicely points out that the Japanese word kaizen does not contain a more complex intrinsic definition than the simple word "improvement" – and as its source, points to Home Japan's own article on the real meaning of kaizen! Ahh, feel the love...

I tried to leave a comment on the page in return. Assuming it got through the unfriendly commenting system for which Lifehacker and its sister sites are notorious, it's possible my comment will remain unseen in the "pending review" pen for time immeasurable. So for the curious, here it is:  

Good article. I wrote one of the articles that you linked to, the one explaining that, contrary to modern belief, the Japanese word "kaizen" means nothing more than the English equivalent "improvement" (of any type, any duration, any reason), and does not have the (mythical) intrinsic meaning of "Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement". I appreciate your making the effort to point that out!

Without question, though, there is also a new, modern word "Kaizen" applied to productivity circles, and your article does a fine job of discussing it.

I'll quibble just the wee-est bit with your suggested direct translation, "good change". As I wrote in my article, a direct translation of the two Chinese characters (改="change", "renew", "reform", "rectify", etc.; 善="good") is perhaps best rendered "changing for the better" or "making good". But thinking about it, "good change" is hardly different from those, and works pretty well.

Anyway, thanks for this nice primer!




On the topic of kaizen, I've seen a few mentions here and there pointing out that the word "kaizen" (maening the way it's used in every day use in Japan) doesn't necessarily have a different meaning from "improvement" in English. So maybe the misunderstanding is startig to go away.


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