Kaizen: Constant Practice Improvement – From Wooden to Deming

Updated: Apr 12

Plan now for 2022....What improvements do you need to make in your practice?


Managing your practice is similar to managing a sports team in many ways. There are goals, rules, plays (procedures,) skill development, strategies, winning and losing. There is also coaching and training.


The teams that win the most constantly work to improve. But the improvements often focus on just the refinement of the basics.


One chiropractor I worked with told me stories about his experiences with John Wooden. Coach Wooden was a very successful basketball coach who coached the UCLA basketball team to 10 national championships over a 12-year period.


Here is what Coach Wooden has said:


Coach John Wooden (ucla.edu) with a basketball net around his neck

Coach John Wooden (ucla.edu)


“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur…. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement.


Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.”

In Japan they have something called Kaizen. This means continuous improvement. Part of this was developed by another Midwesterner (Wooden was from Indiana), Edwards Deming (Iowa).




The Deming Cycle is a process of continuous improvement that helped grow the Japanese car industry in the 60’s to what it is today. For a long time, Detroit auto companies weren’t that interested in what Deming had to say – and, of course, we can see how that turned out for them!


Constant improvement takes discipline. Those of you who had to practice a musical instrument or an athletic skill in school remember the daily routine. Improving the little things can get boring and when a colleague calls with excitement about this new seminar or gadget or website, many doctors are off to the chase the “shiny things.”


Innovation needs to happen, certainly. But the real successful businesses and teams continually work to master what they already do.


Mastering the basics is always the key to success. Deliberate practice, study and good coaching. And this takes discipline and… a certain degree of humility to admit you can personally improve.


But since you are not a full time coach and mostly work IN the practice, you have to schedule specific times to work ON the practice. But what do you work on? ICD 11? (Yes… it IS on the horizon!) More E.H.R?


Well, maybe, but these are not the areas that will significantly improve your business over the long run and take it to the next level.


To help you uncover what should be improved, you can use our updated Practice Progress Grid. You can go over it with your team and plot where you were, where you are now… and then where you want to be next year!


This can help reveal what organizational and engineering steps you need to build a better business machine for 2016.


In most cases, the improvements don’t have to be major. They just have to be continuously refined. But some areas that are holding you back from your goals can be hidden or overlooked.


The world is changing faster and faster. You have to constantly improve to keep up, let alone, to stay ahead. And if you don’t… well, your patients will be going to those offices that are.


From all of us at Goal Driven, we look forward to your continued improvements and to helping you get closer to your goals in 2022.


Ed Petty




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