As our previous blog post mentioned, we recently rebranded ourselves. The ‘kaizen’ part of references Toyota’s methodology, kaizen(改善). In this blog, I’ll dive in a little deeper to talk about “introspection” that I believe is a way of clarifying actionable steps for continuous improvement (kaizen).

The term kaizen reminds me of the term ‘action of introspection’ (hansei 反省). Introspection is an action of reflection looking inward. This is a reviewing action to see if your action delivered a successful result or not. As a kid in Japan, if my action led to consequences that affected others or myself negatively, oftentimes we were told to examine why our actions created these results. I remember having to write essays about my actions that lead me to a bad result, the learnings, and how to improve. In Japan, we often have introspection meetings after an event or project completion. We are encouraged to do an introspection at the end of our day to improve the next day.

When I learned that SREs do a postmortem after an incident, it reminded me of the introspection habits that I learned during childhood. Continuous improvements (kaizen) can be delivered by habitual introspection. Habitual introspection does not only measure the results as good or bad, but also finds what else can be improved (the next actionable steps) to make the results even better. It opens up creative ways to improve.

Are there any SRE teams that work on habitual introspective activity for continuous improvements? Have you heard of introspection (hansei), and what do you think?

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