Utah Jazz Embracing Japanese Kaizen Ahead Of Playoffs

Apr 15, 2022, 4:28 PM
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley displaying the Kaizen (Photo: Ben Anderson/KSLSports)...
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley displaying the Kaizen (Photo: Ben Anderson/KSLSports)
(Photo: Ben Anderson/KSLSports)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz are embracing the Japanese concept of Kaizen as they prepare to face the Dallas Mavericks in the postseason.

You may have seen the Japanese calligraphy sprinkled around the Jazz organization this season, either featured on the team’s clothing or even displayed on signs outside of their practice facility.

Kaizen (改善), which translates roughly to “improvement betterment” is a strategy employed by businesses to make incremental changes over a sustained period which will lead to significant improvements over a long enough period of time.


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The strategy was introduced to the Jazz by head coach Quin Snyder as the team looks to take the next step in their development.

“Coach brought that to our attention as our slogan, our saying,” Mike Conley said. “Being resilient through everything, being at a level all the time and not dipping too low or getting too high.”

It’s a strategy the Jazz will put to the test beginning Saturday when they travel to Dallas to face the Mavericks to kick off the postseason.

The Jazz opened the year with an NBA best 7-1 record through eight games but suffered through highs and lows throughout the rest of the regular season.

In December, the team went 12-2 in 14 games and saw All-Star point guard Donovan Mitchell earn Player of the Month honors.

But in January, COVID-19  and a series of injuries tore through the roster as the Jazz managed just four wins in 16. The rough month resulted in the Jazz losing their standing as a top team in the West, and their hot start was quickly forgotten.

After an 8-1 February, the Jazz again struggled in March as the team finished with a record of 7-10, just as they were hoping to be fine-tuning the roster for the playoffs.

Regardless of the ups and downs, Snyder has preached the team’s desire to improve throughout the season in hopes of playing their best basketball at the end of the year.

“I’ve maintained from the beginning we want to be the best version of ourselves,” Snyder said as his team prepared for the postseason. “I don’t know if we’re that yet, but I hope we can continue to find that and even be a team that gets better throughout the playoffs.”

Now, with the playoffs on the horizon, the Jazz will have to prove that the Kaizen strategy works if they hope to advance past a talented Mavericks roster.

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Utah Jazz Embracing Japanese Kaizen Ahead Of Playoffs