By Jon Miller | Post Date: June 13, 2007 7:39 PM | Comments: 2
Kaizen starts in the brain, so understanding the working of the brain is essential to doing kaizen better. A June 4, 2007 New Scientist article titled Forgetfulness is a tool of the brain suggests that if we want to learn kaizen, we also have to forget.
According to a new study, the brain only chooses to remember memories it thinks are most relevant, and actively suppresses those that are similar but less used, helping to lessen the cognitive load and prevent confusion.
Stanford University researchers Brice Kuhl and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the brain activity of a group of healthy adults while they performed a simple memory test. The experimenters found:
"Whenever you’re engaging in remembering, the brain adapts. It’s constantly re-weighting memories," says Kuhl. "In this simple test, we see it reverse memory to weaken competing memories. This is something that probably happens a lot in the real world."
The overall idea of forgetting something to learning something new is very much in the spirit of kaizen. To improve, we need to let go of old ways so that we can change them and make better ways.
On a related note, on June 4, 2007 the MIT News published an articled titled Brain uses both neural 'teacher' and 'tinkerer' in learning which has interesting parallels to standard work, variation, kaizen and learning through experimentation.
The investigative team of Emilio Bizzi, Uri Rokni, and Sebastian Seung at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator found:
The brain needs "noise" to learn. Variation and error correction is an essential part of the neourscience of learning, in this new theory
Uri Rokni explained:
There is a sensei (teacher) in your brain, guiding your experiments (tinkerer).
The tinkerer in the brain tries new things, while the sensei in the brain guides the experiment according to certain rules and principles, in the example above so that the novel sentence retains the same meaning or value.
The parallel in the Lean world may be that the set behavior is Standard Work, the noise is the naturally occurring variation in any system, and the actions to explore these new options is kaizen.
This may also have parallels to this redundancy in Toyota's design approach. The so-called set-based concurrent engineering where multiple design options are explored until the very end, increasing the "noise" in the overall design work flow, but ending up with a better overall result and more learning. This is in contrast to narrowing down the design options early and struggling to make it work.
If this this new model of learning and the brain is right, it confirms Toyota's claim that their management system is powered by their greatest asset: people and their brains.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.