Kaizen Through My Dad’s Eyes

Sometime around 1972, my Dad switched the way our little family restaurant topped our pizza with mozzarella. Up until then, we bought the cheese by the brick and used our meat slicer to create slabs of cheese about 2 millimeters thick, which we’d place on the pie. For a 17″ large pizza, I believe it was seven slices for the outer ring, and three for the inner ring.

Then he started bringing in twenty pound bags of shredded mozzarella and taught us how to get just the right quantity and spread of cheese on the pizzas. “It costs a little more per pound this way,” he said, “but we don’t have to use as much cheese to achieve the same quality. It saves us from three hours per week running the meat slicer, and frees someone up from cheese cutting to change the oil in our deep fryers one extra time per week. So our chicken wings and fish frys will always taste better.”

I don’t acknowledge often enough, how much about life I learned from my Dad. He passed away in April, 1989.

Several years ago I began reading about the Japanese management concept of Kaizen, which roughly translated into English means “good change” and, applied to business, means that everyone at every level of the business gets a chance to recommend changes that can improve the way things are done. In Kaizen, even little changes can eventually produce big results because the positive effects of small changes add up.

So now it’s April again, and maybe a good idea for me to call Dad to mind.  And all the numerous ways he tried the best he could, to teach me how to continually look for opportunities, large and small, to improve myself. Thanks, Dad. You don’t hear that enough, and I don’t hear myself say it enough.

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