Applying Kaizen to My Various Websites
I do my best to practice what I preach. I'm not perfect, by any means, but I'm pretty good about practicing the “Kaizen” style of continuous improvement that's any or all of the following:
- Done to make your work easier
- Small and non-bureaucratic
- Customer focused
- Low cost, putting creativity over capital
Since this blog is part of my own company, I can't blame a boss for not letting me do Kaizen. And, I'd better not claim “lack of time” as an excuse. It's my job to make time.
Here are a few recent examples of Kaizen improvements related to my websites and work.
LeanBlog.org – Forwarding From My Old Site
When I started this blog in 2005, I used the free Blogspot (later renamed Blogger) platform and used the URL http://kanban.blogspot.com. I later used Blogger with the domain leanblog.org.
For a number of reasons, I switched to “self-hosted WordPress” as a platform, with a new design, back in 2009.
I had help moving the old Blogspot content into WordPress. But, I left the old content up at kanban.blogspot.com for a couple of reasons, including:
One: Images on some of those Blogspot posts didn't get moved over to WordPress, so an old post on LeanBlog.org might load images from Blogspot. This isn't ideal, but it works — the images load and the user probably doesn't notice. I have to just hope that Google doesn't shut down the Blogger service at some point.
Two: Some blogs, including John Hunter's “Curious Cat” blog linked to posts at the old kanban.blogspot.com address (see this post for an example)
I told Google to stop indexing that old site so it wouldn't turn up in search results – only the new site would.
To steer users to my new leanblog.org URLs, the best solution I could come up to forward users wasn't ideal at all.
I give a hat tip to John Hunter for pointing out that my solution wssn't a good user experience for people trying to follow a link from his site to my older content.
BEFORE: If somebody linked to a blog post on kanban.blogspot.com, after a brief display of a page saying “Old Lean Blog – now at LeanBlog.org,” they would be automatically forwarded to a “welcome” page on LeanBlog.org saying “please search for the post using the search bar. Many users might not do this and they wouldn't see my content. While I got them to my new site, they might be annoyed and never come back.
AFTER: I found a WordPress plugin that generated code that I could install on my old Blogspot site that would forward users to the exact post on the newer LeanBlog.org site. The old Blogspot URLs end in “.html” and WordPress doesn't use “.html,” so the plugin makes that conversion in addition to pointing to leanblog.org. Try it by clicking on this link — you'll be forwarded: http://kanban.blogspot.com/2007/03/how-about-partnership-instead.html
EFFECT: John will be happier. His readers will be happier or less annoyed with me about my old poor attempt at forwarding traffic. Other old links on the internet will work better. This might be good for my “SEO” or “Search Engine Optimization.”
This Kaizen cost me nothing other than time, about 30 minutes of research, changes, and testing.
In the Kaizen process, we follow what's sometimes an iterative Plan-Do-Study-Adjust cycle. If we “spin the PDSA (or PDCA) cycle,” as they say in Japan. We might not find an effective solution on our first try.
My cycle was:
Plan: Do some research through Google and blog posts. Find a plugin that might work. I wasn't worried about finding the “best” plugin… just find something that might work.
Do: Try the plugin…
Study: I couldn't make it work, either through my error or some other reason.
Adjust: Try a different plugin…. Plan (find a new approach), Do (install and configure), Study (it works!), and Adjust (no, it's good).
Kaizening the Japan Lean/Kaizen Tour Page
On my JapanLeanTrip.com site, there is a “Contact” page that said:
“Please fill out this form to receive more information about the Lean Healthcare Study Tour to Japan in February 2018 (or future trips), organized by Kaizen Institute.”
When people filled out the contact form, I'd have to ask them via email “are you interested in the February trip or future trips?”
After doing this a few times, I thought, “Duh.” It's OK to “duh” yourself, I think.
I should built that question into the contact form!
That part of the form now looks like this:
Some people check one or the other, some check both.
My Kaizen summary:
Before: The contact form was vague. Are they interested in future trips or the next one? I have to email them to find out.
After: The contact form is more clear. It saves me time and I don't have to ask the person via email.
Effect: Time savings all around. Less annoyance on the part of people who want information.
With Kaizen, we often do “Kaizen upon Kaizen.” One improvement leads to another.
I realized that the form could be more clear about the “check all that apply” nature of the checkboxes. It's possible that not everybody knows you can check multiple options. A “radio button” choice is “choose one,” but again, it's possible not all users know this.
So, I made another Kaizen on the form:
Before: It's possible that people think they can only check one option.
After: Added text that says “Check all that apply,”
Effect: Clearer communication.
That part of the form now looks like this:
Those changes took just a few minutes. Kaizen!
Lean Hospitals Website
Sometimes in the practice of Kaizen, we're inspired by others. Or we just copy their idea because it also seems like a good idea for us.
I saw this tweet from Catalysis last week:
Here are three of the dozens of questions from the Book Club Guide to "Management on the Mend," 1. What is the pre-work for mending management? 2. Why does he state that it is necessary? 3. Who needs to change? https://t.co/TyyNO98Fka pic.twitter.com/6XMW2tZSvF
— Catalysis (@HCValue) January 19, 2018
I thought, “What a great idea!”
My book Lean Hospitals has group discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I know people also do “book clubs” and discussions around my book.
Why not put all of those questions into a single document that might be easier to work from? So, I created that and posted it on my site.
Before: Discussion questions were in the book at the end of each chapter.
Effect: Might help facilitate the book club discussions. Happier readers? There might be SEO benefits to me having that content out on the web.
Now, this wasn't a change that I ran past any customers. It was easy to implement, so the worst thing that happens is nobody reads the page or downloads the document. I'm willing to take that risk. Better to try the idea in practice than to agonize about it too long.
If I wanted to measure the impact (which might not be worth the effort), I could look at measures, including:
- The number of people who access that page
- The number of times that PDf is downloaded
- General web traffic on the book's website
- The number of books sold
But, it just seemed like the right thing to do… or at least to try. I don't require an “ROI” on each of these Kaizens.
Other Kaizen Opportunities?
Maybe you see continued Kaizen opportunities there or with the blog.
Feel free to post a comment if you have ideas or suggestions. Or, even if you just have “problems” that I could try to solve with my sites.
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