With the outcome and consequential aftermath of Brexit remaining as an unknown (at the time of writing), businesses are understandably delaying significant decisions and investments until greater clarity around the future of the trading agreement between the EU and the UK is known.  The past 2 and a half years of Brexit negotiations have impacted the UK economy and, as a result, The Bank of England have since revised their original forecast for GDP growth – reducing it by 1.2% compared to original expectations three years ago.  

Such uncertainty risks businesses becoming stagnant, unable to effectively form decisions due to a lack of detailed information.  Furthermore, the impacts and uncertainty of Brexit seem to be far from over, and at least set to continue for the remainder of 2019.  So, how can you keep moving forwards with the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over your operations? 

In a time where investment and resources are limited, the focus shifts to small improvements that can be implemented quickly with a minimal cost.  This is the key principle behind the Kaizen philosophy.  From the Japanese Kai (improvement) and Zen (good), the Kaizen approach originated in an era of austerity and focused on identifying improvements for the current workforce, equipment and technologies to provide quick wins at a low cost.   

The success of Kaizen lies in the involvement of all employees at every level of a company.  Rather than a top-down or bottom-up approach, every person is encouraged to share suggestions for improvements.  Through the collective individual efforts of an entire organisation, small improvements can be actioned across every area of the business to achieve incremental innovation – over time, making a significant overall impact and continuing to drive the business forward, all whilst minimising the resources required.  What’s more, empowering employees to have a say on changes in the workplace boosts morale which, in turn, leads to higher productivity levels.  

The Kaizen model also provides a degree of protection in times of uncertainty by providing a means to improve upon processes without jeopardising the overall operation.  This is because low-cost changes can be implemented in one specific area of the business to tackle a particular challenge with instant results.  

Although the uncertainty of Brexit continues to impact businesses and stagnant their future moves across both the UK and the EU, the Kaizen methodology can help to continue driving businesses forward until the road ahead is clearer.

Ellena Austin, Yusen Logistics