At a mastermind in Arizona, it quickly becomes apparent that I am in the wrong room. The room is full of 25 business owners from across the world who are experts in running world-class businesses and internet marketing. I keep quiet, in the hopes that others won’t discover my ignorance.
At the end of the 3-day mastermind, a business owner asks a question of the executive team at Infusionsoft (now known as “Keap”) about the single most important thing that a business owner should do. The executive team members begin laughing, almost uncontrollably, and finally the Chief Operating Officer explains why.
The secret to enduring success is quarterly strategic planning. Those who commit to quarterly strategic planning will inevitably succeed, and those who do not, will almost always fail.
The Transformative Power of Kaizen
The importance of strategic planning is undeniable for successful law firm owners. But what do you do when you meet with your executive team to plan for the future of your law firm? Therein lies the power of Kaizen.
“Small actions are the heart of kaizen. By taking small steps so tiny that they seem trivial or even laughable, you’ll sail through calmly past obstacles that have defeated you before.”
Robert D. Maurer, Ph.D., “The Spirit of Kaizen”
Kaizen (Kai=change, Zen=good) is a Japanese term that captures the concept of continuously making many small improvements. Kaizen is the belief that small changes over time can create huge life changes.
Kaizen for the Improvement of Your Law Firm
When you meet with your team, ask them, “What is the one small thing you can do today to [you fill in the blank]?” Brainstorm and collaborate on solutions with your team.
#1: Client Experience:
What is the one thing that you can improve in your client experience?
#2: Caring Work Environment:
What is the one thing you can do to show your team members that you care about them?
#3: Cost Cutting:
What is the one way you can save your law firm $1 today?
#4: Case Management:
What’s one small way that you can improve your case management?
Write a top 10, and then whittle down the list to the top 3 steps you can make to improve your law firm. Now, you know where to focus.
Kaizen for an Incredible Client Experience
What are the small steps that you can take to improve your client experience?
- Call your clients with an update at least once every 3 weeks.
- Provide a Client Welcome Package that explains the processes of the lawsuit.
- Grant access to a patient portal that automatically updates your clients about the status of their lawsuit.
Kaizen for a Caring Work Environment
What can you do to show your team that you care about them?
- Visit personally with team members during the day.
- Have lunch with a team member once a week.
- Send a personal, handwritten note with a compliment for a team member.
- Compliment a team member on the creation of a new firm policy.
- Share on social media the exceptional work of a team member.
Kaizen for Cost Cutting for Your Law Firm
What can you do to cut costs for your law firm?
- Serve voluminous discovery responses upon defense counsel on a flash drive (rather than printing them).
- Photocopy documents on both sides of paper.
- Have written budgets for the fees of expert witnesses.
- Review item-by-item the monthly expenses and ruthlessly cut expenses that are unnecessary.
Kaizen for Case Management
Go through every little thing that you and your team can do to improve case management.
- Implement work plans into your case management software.
- Hire a virtual assistant to format discovery responses and demands.
- Serve objection letters within 30 days of your receipt of the defendants’ discovery demands.
- Serve a complete set of medical records and release authorizations for medical and employment records as soon as you receive the defendants’ answers.
At the end of a lawsuit, list 3 things that went well and 3 things that need to be improved. Share the Case Audit and get the feedback from your team.
Kaizen for Strategic Life Planning
Often, high level law firm owners have thriving law firms, but lose focus on their personal lives, e.g., marriage, fitness, health, relationships with their kids, etc. If your law firm thrives, but your personal life is a mess, are you where you want to be in your life?
“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.”
This is where Kaizen comes in. Take small daily activities to improve your relationships with your spouse and kids, lose weight and achieve your personal goals.
How Kaizen can Change Your Life
What is the one small thing I can do today to [an area of your life that you want to improve]? This might encompass your career, relationships, health & fitness, spiritual or fun.
“If you could write the script of your life, what would it look like?”
Michael Smith, Point Northeast
Start brainstorming. Of the activities that you can identify, what would make the biggest difference in your personal life?
Compliment your spouse every day.
Jog at least 1 mile every day.
Spend 5 minutes alone in prayer and silent contemplation.
Call your son every day to check in and say “hi”.
Document one thing that you’re grateful for, every day, in a Gratitude Journal.
Learn a new word or phrase every day in a foreign language.
Now, document your progress in a journal (print or electronic) and periodically share your progress with trusted friends. Over time, you will be amazed by your progress. It may seem easy to others, but the results occur as the result of your commitment to doing small activities every day (Kaizen).
Kaizen for Weight Loss
Want to lose weight? What is the one small step you can take to lose weight? Kaizen should be easy.
Eat Salad with Meals: Eat salad with lunch and dinner. Salad fills your stomach and as a result, you won’t go back for more than one serving of the entrée.
Journal Food Consumption: Journal everything you eat and drink.
Pause before Every Bite: Put down your fork/spoon between each bite. The slower you eat, the more you will enjoy the meal.
Leave Food on your Plate: Leave at least some food on the plate after every meal.
Control your Environment: At restaurants, ask the server not to bring bread, chips, beans and rice (keep the temptations out of sight).
Take the Stairs: Always take the stairs (instead of the elevator).
How Kaizen Works
On January 18, 2021, I began documenting my food consumption and exercise. This only takes a couple of minutes a day. As a result, I became more conscious about my choices about the food that I ate. I became aware that everything that I eat makes a difference, especially the little snacks.
This resulted in about ½ pound of weight loss a week and the progress was slow. But over a period of 3-6 months, I began seeing progress and it didn’t stop. My body weight dropped from 193.6 to 168.2 lbs. I lost more than 25 pounds through a simple, but deliberate, activity of documenting my food consumption.
This is the power of Kaizen (and an absolutely wonderful program, MyBodyTutor—highly recommended!). And there’s no reason you can’t do the same.
You will be Shocked by the Power of Kaizen
Success does not happen overnight. You will build a law firm with one small improvement every day. You won’t see the results at first, but over time, you’ll build something special.
“The Kaizen philosophy assumes that our way of life—be it our working
life, our social life, or our home life—deserves to be constantly improved.”
All Kaizen asks is that you take small steps toward the improvement of your law firm. What area of your law firm needs improvement? As legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi, once said, “Inches make a champion.”
Image from Edraw Content Team