Why we use the today, tomorrow, and day-after-tomorrow framework

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Summary: Learn how you can reduce waste while planning ahead for your future through a helpful framework from Kaizen called, “today, tomorrow, and day-after-tomorrow.” This shared understanding helps our team set expectations and work towards them together, knowing what success looks like.

Why use the “today, tomorrow, day-after-tomorrow” framework

In previous posts, you may have heard us refer to the phrase “today, tomorrow, and day after tomorrow.” In today’s post, we want to take a deeper look into this framework, explain the intentionality behind using it, and how it can improve your company’s efficiency if you use it too! To begin diving into this concept, imagine looking at your planner or calendar seeing all the events, campaigns, analytics, reporting, and PR that you must go through this month. You may feel a rising sensation of pressure and anxiety wrap itself around your throat as you consider the overwhelming amount of work that should have been done yesterday, and the ever-building pile of to-dos for today. This sensation can feel paralyzing at times as you fall further and further behind.

As your work in progress (WIP) piles up, you likely will experience a reverse effect of your energy levels draining. Trying to keep track of everything that is going on while preparing for the future becomes a never-ending struggle that consumes your physical, mental, and emotional bandwidth. As humans, we are much more effective when we can focus our energy on our strengths and use them in the present moment. And as a business, specialization can lead to higher productivity rates, improve operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness, as well as lead to higher autonomy among employees, which is linked to a greater sense of employee wellbeing and job satisfaction. Additionally, economic principles explain that specialization results in economies of scale, which allows a company to produce products and services at a lower cost, thus providing a competitive advantage to reduce prices offered and increase margins. Sounds great, right? But how can we reduce this WIP to a manageable level? How can we achieve this competitive advantage? This is where the concept of today, tomorrow, and day after comes into play.  

What is the "today, tomorrow, day-after-tomorrow" framework?

We first heard of this framework from our friends at Kaas Tailored, an upholstery company who is renowned for their efficiency and culture of continuous improvement, so that their workplace can be one of joy and learning. Their methods are based on "Kaizen," which is a Japanese term meaning "change for the better and continuous improvement." In general, it is a way of thinking about business tasks and prioritizing them so that the pressure of waste is reduced. This way, when your company is in alignment with this framework and language, everyone can understand how some tasks, and specific roles, will work on today while others will help plan for the near future, and the rest will focus on the long-term future. Below each step is broken down further for a business mindset:

  • Today | These are current operational needs including:
    • Day-to-day deliverables
  • Tomorrow | Refers to activities related to future (next 6 days to 6 months) business needs including:
    • Coaching, continuous improvement efforts (or Kaizen), and adding capabilities
    • Deliverables that add to the team and help better processes
  • Day After Tomorrow | Relates to long-term future of an organization (next 1 to 10 years) including:
    • Not just adding business capabilities but adding new products, services, technologies, and more
    • Where are you headed? What changes will you make? Are we going to add? Are we growing our team?

When companies structure their roles and responsibilities through this model, individuals will have tasks specifically delegated to them and the entire business will benefit from reducing waste and increasing overall operational efficiency.

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How can this framework help your business?

As mentioned before, having too much WIP lowers productivity. Another downside is that it can cause a lot of waste. If you want to reduce waste, you have to start with the question, “Is waste real?” Then, you have to ask yourself, “Is waste a problem?” And only after answering yes to those two questions can you start to develop a plan for how to fix it. At Kaas, they recommend doing everything analog first.

By explicitly writing out tasks and evaluating them prior to making digital changes, companies can develop a plan for how to tackle work. If your company is proposing a new idea or advancement, first, write down everything that they're doing like:

  • All the operations you're performing within your business
  • Who's doing them
  • How they're being accomplished
  • What technologies are doing them

Additionally, you may begin to notice that some processes are not exactly “waste” themselves, but perhaps they are redundant, repeatable tasks that are not showcasing the skills of the employees executing them. This may be something that could benefit from technological advancements and automation. Instead of having many overwhelming open projects, you can begin the process of prioritization and employees can spend more time contributing to vital business functions and delivering exceptional customer experiences. While some employees may feel apprehensive about shifting roles to technology, having greater autonomy and meaning in tasks will improve work motivation and generate improved efficiency.

Some other positive externalities of the today, tomorrow, day-after framework are as follows:

  • Prioritization enhances clarity of expectations
    • Improving budget plan
    • Creates transparency across your company
  •  Employees are confident in their roles, abilities, and contribution to business goals
    • Customers expectations are met or exceeded
  • High level employees and stakeholders can focus on important ideas
      • How current business functions can be best maintained
      • How potential leaks in system can be sealed while still generating a ROI
      • What can be continuously improved

How can we help? 

Taking on this framework can bring obvious improvements to your company, but sometimes it can be challenging to identify where to start. If you're looking for help learning how to reduce waste within your business, we'd recommend reaching out to Kaas Tailored. They offer a variety of consulting services. At Assemble, we help our clients consider their current standing, identify goals for the future, and design and develop a secure plan to execute. If you would like to work with us, we would love to work with you! Schedule a consultation with us below where we can chat and see what the best next steps are!

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