How Kaizen is making me a better Developer

It’s the end of the 3rd week of coding bootcamp at Juno College. Time flies when you’re learning a lot and learning fast. There’s so much information to digest— old concepts I’m re-learning and expanding on, and new concepts I’m learning fresh. Classes run from Monday to Friday and we start at 9:00am and finish at 5:00pm.

But coding bootcamp doesn’t stop there. We spend hours outside class to practice the concepts and lessons. It’s one thing to read and consume the lessons in a classroom format, but to truly understand these concepts— you need to practice. 

I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing a lot of developers in the Juno community get from where I am now, to being highly skilled and working full-time in the tech space.

It’s sometimes daunting to think about the steps to get to that position… the amount of time and work put into honing your skills and building your portfolio. I sometimes fear I’m not understanding the lessons or I’m not studying hard enough.

I ask myself, how do I get there?

How do I become a better developer without  falling under the weight of stress and the anxiety of failing?



What is Kaizen?

A few years ago, I came across a business philosophy called Kaizen. 

The literal meaning for of the Japanese Kaizen can be broken down into 2 parts “kai” and “zen”—meaning change and good, respectively.

Kaizen Definition leansmarts.com https://leansmarts.com/lean-101/kaizen/ [1]

Kaizen teaches the principles of continuous improvement.

The idea of achieving small, maybe sometimes unnoticeable wins, to achieving a larger win in the long-term.

Kaizen also teaches you not to look for the big and quick improvement, but to set small, successful and achievable improvements for the eventual big gain.

When researching the topic, I discovered many derivatives of Kaizen that have been applied in other industries like technology, manufacturing, and even athletics[2]. There is even the Kaizen Institute, whose mission is to increase enablement of the Kaizen Way[3] to their clients.




What attracted me to Kaizen?

I’m not an expert practitioner of Kaizen, but let me talk about my favorite part about Kaizen that had me buy into this philosophy.

It’s clear with Kaizen, that with every continuous increment, we aim for small successes. But what about if we run into small failures?

You Ready?

Unlike the way small successful improvements lead to long term success. Small failed improvements do not lead to long term failure.

Take a look at the following visual: (Beware: a little bit of math coming)

The Power of Tiny Gains, “Continuous Improvement:
How It Works and How to Master It” by James Clear (https://jamesclear.com/continuous-improvement)[4]

If you get better at something at a rate of 1% everyday for the next 365 days, you will have increased your skillset at at magnitude 37.78 times over.

But, if you have small failures at 1% everyday for the next 365 days, you’d only have decreased your skillset by a magnitude of 0.03 times over.

James Clear, author of the Atomic Habits says it best:

If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.

James Clear




How am I adopting Kaizen to be a better Developer?

I try to practice Kaizen in my journey to becoming a better developer. It’s important to set the right expectations and to gradually chip away on how I can be a better developer

Here are small things that I do to accomplish this:

1. Code a little bit everyday. 

Learn a new concept everyday by practicing. If it’s a new concept, I try to practice and code it quickly on my computer.  Keep it simple and keep it modular. A tool that helps me to practice code quickly is codepen.io. Its freemium version offers a HTML, CSS, and JavaScript panel that allows you to build quick code snippets without the hassle of setting up dependencies and an IDE.

2. When to say it’s enough. 

Remember to study and code a little everyday, but also realize when to call it quits. I need to realize when it’s enough; conserve my physical and mental energy for the next day. Even though it may not seem noticeable with the small incremental accomplishments you have, I set the expectation that long term returns are on the horizon.

3. Seek help. 

It’s about small wins, but also small improvements. I try to seek assistance from the multitude of resources I have available to me. In Juno’s bootcamp program, we have a Slack channel I sometimes post my questions there. There is a regular question period in the bootcamp called HelpCue, where a mentor can answer your questions and troubleshoot code with you. I post my questions to the instructors here for assistance on lessons and projects.

4. Accepting that small failures are okay 

Be kind to yourself.

Not every incremental change will merit success. It’s okay to run into hurdles. If there is something I’m working on and I’m struggling with it, I try to be more kind to myself, take this struggle and aim to improve on it the next day. Remembering that small incremental failures are okay in the long scheme of incremental improvement.


Keep Improving

Just having a little fun…

let weeks = 7;

function kaizen(days){

  return 1.01**days;
  
}

As I reflect on how fast the last 3 weeks have flown by. I’d like to say I am kaizen(3*weeks) …times a better developer than I was when I started coding bootcamp.

As I sit here and sip on my hot cup of tea, I can truly begin to understand the philosophy of Kaizen and why it works for me. It helps me build the confidence and inner peace needed to becoming a better developer. It also helps me build healthy habits and allows me to work on having a steady progress towards my goal. 

The Kaizen approach to personal development is a lot more enjoyable and rewarding than beating yourself up over all your imperfections.

So, what do you say? Are you ready to give Kaizen a try?

xx Jenny







References:

  1. Lean Smarts (www.leansmarts.com)
  2. Cooper, Marta. “Britain’s world-beating cycling team owes its success to a World War Two management technique that helped rebuild Japan“, August 23, 2016. Quartz.com (www.qz.com)
  3. Kaizen Institute, (www.kaizen.com)
  4. Clear, James. Atomic Habits, New York, Penguin Random House, 2018 (www.jamesclear.com)

Published by that_jenster

Early Childhood Educator // Holistic Nutritionist Front-End Web Development in Training // Juno College Cohort 27 Full-Time Adventurer

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