After a long, exciting and particular successful kaizen event at one of our plants, I returned to my home office to find a simple wooden plaque sitting on my desk with the words “Dantotsu” engraved on the front. On the back was a small post it note with a short message that read “Japanese word that means striving to be the “Best of the Best” – This is for you.”
After checking around the office, no one knows who left it on my desk and I still don’t know the reason behind this gift. It is possible this is a simple thank you gift. It is also possible there is no reason except someone found it on a 5S Sort and thought to drop it off on my desk.
I look to this plaque as not recognition of some past effort or a 5S activity rather as a vision for the future. A vision to strive to be the Best of the Best in all that we do. It’s a challenge to rise above the status quo and set the bar higher than just good enough.
Whatever the origin of this simple plaque, it sparks my imagination, ignites my curiosity and flames my passion for excellence. All the things I try to do for others along the lean journey. Things we should all do as lean leaders. This simple plaque serves as my mission to guide others better than I have in the past, increase my awareness and accelerate my efforts for excellence. In my mind, it is not a question of if I can do it but how I can do it best.
To become best of the best will require discipline, hard work, determination, self-examination, experimentation and persistence. Even if I fail in this quest to become the best of the best, I will certainly be far better than I am today and the path of continuous improvement is certainly no failure.