In the achievement-led style of modern business, outstanding contributions from individuals further careers and earn rewards. Any rewards, however, must be motivational. Reward appropriately any contributions that are of genuine benefit to the organization. 

Emphasizing Achievement

The Japanese have one of the most hierarchical societies, and respect for one’s elder is built into their culture.  However, age does not come before ability in their organizations.  Seniors earn respect, but the best-qualified person gets the job, irrespective of age. The system in the West, too, has become less age-led. For example, a project could be given to a young manager to command without upsetting the hierarchy or anyone within it.  To make sure talent is allowed to develop, some seniors may have to be moved “sideways” to make room for more able juniors on their way up. 


Breaking With Tradition

The traditional hierarchical system was ideal for maintaining order within large organizations. Command and feedback flowed through the same channels, via each member of the hierarchy. It was an orderly method for an orderly world, but this system is no longer appropriate. Today, quick completion of tasks is more important than obedience to rules, and high achievers may earn more than normal supervisors. Encourage self to accept the new approach, but introduce it gradually to those who are used to the old way. 


Motivating Through Change

Change is a good way to raise levels of achievement, and few things increase staff morale more than successful change. There are two ways to improve – gradually and radically. You must decide which system is best for you in each situation.


Change Gradually

The concept of continuous, gradual change (known as kaizen, from the Japanese) has become attractive to Westerners and essential to those who adopt Total Quality Management (TQM), which is about constantly improving every process and product by progressive methods. Kaizen, however, is more a way of life in which all staff members are urged to look constantly for ways to improve any element of their performance, and to believe that nothing is the best it can be.


Changing Radically

Another method of change is kaikabu (Japanese for “radical change”). Kaikabu redefines an organization’s entire business, looking at its ultimate purpose and examining every process to see what each contributes to the final goal. It also takes into account how that contribution can be radically improved, or in cases where the process serves no purpose, eliminated.

The problem with kaizen, and the reason why many Western companies  give up early with their TQM programs, is that major breakthroughs  in one part – or even in several parts – of the system may not add up to a sizable  achievement for the organization as a whole. Kaikabu forces you to concentrate on those activities that add value. Having tracked down these activities, you then fix targets far in excess of current levels of achievement. The motivational impact of kaikabu is enormous, but staff may be slow to accept its necessity.


Combining Techniques

The techniques of kaizen and kaikabu are not mutually exclusive.  The former is a way of life, “the way we do things round here”. Everybody accepts the principle that every operation and product or service can always be improved, and that an increase in efficiency will generally result in a rise in profit. The principle of kaizen is still applied when an organization is going through radical change. 

To get the full benefits of kaikabu, you will also have to use kaizen techniques in the initial revamping and refocusing of activities.  Encourage acceptance of radical change in your staff through strategy meetings. At these meetings, it is important to make it clear that no holds will be barred, and to encourage staff to discuss and offer suggestions on any issues.



  1. Seek early chances to promote able, younger members of your staff.
  2. Use monetary reward as flexibly as possible to get the most of their motivational value.
  3. Use taskforces to develop your best people.
  4. Take every chance to preach quality and practice improvement.
  5. Make one major change, while also going for many small ones.
  6. Ensure that all staff members are involved in quality -improving schemes


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Bernard Taiwo

I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.

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Fri Sep 2 , 2022
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