I came across this philosophy in the new edition of the Pragmatic Programmer book. (I guess the original version talks about it too but I don’t think I ever read that).
It’s a Japanese concept meaning that you make continuous improvements to a business process, as soon as you notice that something’s not right.
The famous Toyota production system uses this approach. All staff working on a production line are encouraged to stop their work immediately when they see something is out of the ordinary. They are then encouraged to suggest an improvement along with their supervisor. Kaizen is considered to be one of the main reasons for the dramatic increases in quality and productivity in Japanese manufacturing.
And this can be related to programming: making improvements to the codebase as you go along. It reminds me of the Scout rule that should be followed when writing code: leaving the campsite (codebase) cleaner than it was when you started.
Kaizen can also be applied to your personal development. Which is why I’m writing about it now! I didn’t know what it meant, read about it, research it a bit, wrote about it and my knowledge has improved.
I am now officially Kaizened.