One of the first things visitors notice at the Kaizen Institute office in Auckland is the absence of office chairs.\nTrue, the open plan office has a facility for training, where chairs and long tables are provided. But the workstations are perched on elevated desks, which can be reached only if staff are standing up, or using a balance board.\nDanie Vermeulen, CEO of Kaizen Institute, says this is in response to a raft of studies highlighting the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle.\nA balancing act: Danie Vermeulen, CEO of Kaizen Institute New Zealand, uses a balance board to reach the elevated workstations.\nHe says the nature of the work they do at Kaizen allows them to adopt this concept.\nWhen they hold training sessions in their open plan office, clients see how the concept works, and can get ideas on how to integrate this into their respective organisations.\nStand-up meetings\nOne of the practices they espouse is the \u2018stand-up meeting\u2019.\nEvery Friday morning, the staff \u2013 around four \u2013 have a 15-minute stand-up meeting. The staff huddle in front of a white \u201cvisualisation\u201d board with markers indicating the progress for ongoing and upcoming projects.\nStaff go over what happened the previous week and what could be improved, and discuss activities for the following week.\nStand-up meeting: Danie Vermeulen, CEO and Peter Wiid, director, of Kaizen Institute alternately preside over the weekly stand-up meetings. In some organisations, the stand-up meetings are held daily.\n\u201cThis is about focused consolidation, together we all know what is going on,\u201d says Vermeulen. \u201cIt is about getting everybody on the same page and focused for the next few days.\u201d\nA client recently held a similar stand-up meeting, with somebody in China participating, says Vermeulen. The Web camera was set up and the white board became the touchpoint. For this, a visualisation tool like Droptask was used, which can be on a tablet or a screen.\nBack to basics\nThe company provides training and consultation for implementing the Kaizen method of continuous improvement. The methodology was introduced to the West by Masaaki Imai in his book Kaizen: The Key to Japan\u2019s Competitive Success in 1986.\nHe says CIOs would recognise this framework, as this weekly meeting adopts the Agile scrum concept, and can be transposed to the whole organisation.\n\u201cWe are taking the principles of Agile to a meeting, visualising progress and the next steps.\nThe concept we like to use is a lighthouse. We set up a pilot, a reference point for people. Danie Vermeulen, Kaizen Institute NZ\n\u201cToday we find people get distracted quite a bit. So many are overloaded and become bombarded. This is almost like going back to basics, to be able to visualise what is the most important thing to do.\u201d\n\u201cA lot of people are recognising the whole concept of multi-tasking is not really that successful,\u201d he says. "This is coming back to doing one or two things at a time, then completing it.\n\u201cWhen you finish one [project], capacity is freed up, and you bring in the next one."\nInstead of ongoing transformation or change for the sake of change, Vermeulen says the goal is \u201congoing improvement, continuously incrementally making it better\u201d.\nThe shadow box\nThe Kaizen concept can also implemented in a seemingly simple office undertaking \u2013 make sure the stationery cabinet is stocked regularly and office tools used everyday are kept track of.\nColourful markers indicate whether office supplies need to be reordered.\nThere are markers indicating when stocks are running low for certain items and need to be reordered.\nEach staff member, meanwhile, has a \u2018shadow box\u2019 containing their office supplies, like scissors, staplers and marker pens. The box has cutouts to indicate where these items should be placed. Before leaving the office, the staff will put the items back in their respective spaces.\nThis practice reduces clutter and ensures the staff know where to find the office tools they use most.\nThe shadow box: A visual reminder of where to put the essential office tools.\nThe Kaizen method, he says, is a multi-year strategy. \u201cYou are changing culture, fundamentally changing the way people think about root causes and solutions. Not fix symptoms or fire-fighting," he states.\nIt could start from making a part of the organisation lean, and then apply it to another part, and so on.\n\u201cAs the organisation\u2019s maturity goes up, they are taken to the next level,\u201d he says.\n\u201cThe concept we like to use is a lighthouse,\u201d he says. \u201cWe set up a pilot, a reference point for people to look at.\u201d\n Stick to those proven principles of robust problem solving, and use technology to speed it up and not take shortcuts. Danie Vermeulen, Kaizen Institute\nFor instance, the Kaizen system will start at the finance section and others would see what this section is doing and will want to do the same.\n\u201cWe really believe in robust decision making and robust problem solving. Understand the problem, understand the root cause, find the solution to the root cause and implement it,\u201d says Vermeulen. \u201cYou have to do this over and over again and not only from a problem solving standpoint."\nAs for a key advice to organisations, Vermeulen states: \u201cDon\u2019t forget what works really well, stick to those proven principles of robust problem solving, and use technology to speed it up and not take shortcuts.\u201d\nSend news tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org\nFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap\nFollow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz\nSign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.\nJoin us on Facebook.