Kaizen and Grass Seed

Dear Nathan,

Today I would like to share with you the idea of kaizen. it is a Japanese word that means “continuous improvement–just 1% at a time.” This idea has rolled around in my mind for years. So simple. So profound. How does this idea apply to what you are doing with grass seed?

Often, you have told me of the importance of weighing each bag so that it comes out at precisely 50.10 pounds on your scale. Why not 50 pounds? Because your scale is just a little bit off–that 1%. You tell me that your goal is to fill 20 pallets of seed each night; each pallet holds 52 sacks of seed. Somebody else aims to fill another 20 pallets of seed during the day. That makes 40 pallets–or 2080 sacks of seed–every 24 hours. If you filled each bag to exactly 50 pounds according to the scale that weighs the seed, you would be cheating your buyer by .10 pounds in each bag, a little thing. But, that .10 pounds per bag becomes 5.2 pounds on each pallet, and 208 pounds every 24 hours!

Imagine the implications this could bring to Mr. Kropf when he takes the seed to his buyer and this discrepancy is realized–shorted 208 pounds for every 24 hours. I would guess that this process continues for at least 6 weeks, 6 days a week, or 7,488 pounds! Would they even be willing to buy the seed from him? Would they want to do business with him in the future? What would happen to his reputation? Just think, the money he has invested in his fields, equipment, and buildings could lay waste simply because he had not been diligent to make up for this tiny, .10 pound miscalibration on his scale that weighs the seed! Kaizen–it is the little things that take us down; not the big ones!

This reminds me of what Charles Winthrop said many years ago in 1849:

Men . . . must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.

Mr. Kropf may have been tempted to disregard the fact that his scale is improperly calibrated to weigh the seed. I do not know. What I do know is that he has a choice and he chooses to do the right thing. Why? I do not know the answer to that either. However, I would suspect that it would have something to do with his desire to attain and maintain a godly reputation in his home and community.

Reminds me of Paul’s instruction to young Timothy to do the right thing. He exhorts Timothy to be an example in his conduct and to exercise himself toward godliness for therein lies much profit for all things, for in so doing he will save both himself and those who hear him.

Mr. Kropf is demonstrating by his life–and you are learning and integrating into yours–an essential element, not only in the work world, but in all of life itself: when you refuse to be self-governed, you ask to be a slave. You must ask yourself, will you be controlled by a power within or by a power without–by the Bible, or by the bayonet?

It all started in the Garden of Eden. There was only one rule–not to eat of the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. I suppose you could call this God’s kaizen rule for Eve. Not a big deal. And yet, as she pondered the possibility of partaking of it as she considered the potential personal gain by eating thereof, she chose to eat just one bite! That little, 1% kaizen that Eve partook of, changed history from that day on. We feel the affects of this kaizen move on Eve’s part more than ever as our nation is rapidly exchanging God’s Word for man’s ideas, while each man chooses to eclipse the law of God and do that which is right in his own eyes (Jud 21:25).

I challenge you, dear boy, to choose this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Josh 24:15).

As you progress on your path in this life, remember the kaizen, the 1% rule. Carefully weigh your choices. Remember Mr. Kropf’s seed scale.

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