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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement

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Meet Some of the Pioneers of Lean Leadership

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 17, 2017 3:51:34 PM

We spend a lot of time in this blog focused on the “what” and “why” of Lean and continuous improvement. Today, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the “who" (and we don't mean the classic band).

The term Lean was first coined by John Krafcik in his 1988 Sloan Management Review article “Triumph of the Lean Production System.”  The approach gained traction after the publication of The Machine That Changed the World, by James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos in 1990.

The term Lean manufacturing may be less than 30 years old, but the thinking that inspired it has been around since the pre-industrial age. The leaders who developed this approach understood the need for continuous improvement and empowered employees. They learned from each other, eventually building our modern approach to business process improvement and management. Here’s some background on a few of the most important contributors to Lean leadership.

Free Webinar: Leadership Behaviors that Create an Improvement Culture

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Topics: Lean, Leadership

The Impact of Prescription Drug Price-Gouging on the Quality of Healthcare in the U.S.

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Nov 15, 2017 6:41:00 AM

You know how, when you’re at the doctor and they’re filling out a prescription for you, they ask which pharmacy you use? The implication is that you always use the same pharmacy, presumably because it’s more convenient than the others.

The problem is, you have no way to know how much the drugs cost at each pharmacy while standing in the doctor’s office. You have to go home and research - and when you’re sick, that’s the last thing you want to do.

Why aren’t these prescriptions a standard price? How come you can get something filled for $20 one month and it’s suddenly $140 the next - unless you call around, in which case you might find that it’s $10 somewhere else?

I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of the continuous improvement software company KaiNexus, but I’m also a practicing ER doctor in Austin, Texas (my employees lovingly refer to KaiNexus as my side-hustle). As a result of my medical background and experience in this area, I have an interest in the impact of continuous improvement (or lack thereof) in the healthcare industry.

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with my friend Colby Evans, MD, a dermatologist here in Texas, when he started talking about the problems with drug delivery and pricing in the US. I immediately started forming connections in my mind between what he was saying about the industry and what I know to be true about quality, improvement, and patient care - and I knew I just had to get him on the KaiNexus podcast to talk about this with me.

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A Few Profound Thoughts on Gemba Walks

Posted by Jake Sussman

Nov 14, 2017 7:34:00 AM

As I was researching our upcoming post on the Pioneers of Lean Leadership, I came across a quote by Taiichi Ohno, one of the fathers of the Toyota Way and Kaizen. On the subject of Gemba walks, he said, “When you go out into the workplace, you should be looking for things that you can do for your people there. You’ve got no business in the workplace if you’re just there to be there. You’ve got to be looking for changes you can make for the benefit of the people who are working there.

This is a deeply important idea that encapsulates the purpose of going to the Gemba as well as the difference between Gemba walks and management by walking around. I especially appreciate that he focused on making changes to benefit the people who are doing the work, not simply to reduce waste or cut costs. When workers feel productive and engaged, amazing results can occur.

I wondered if other leaders had thought-provoking things to say about Gemba walks and it turns out they certainly do. Here are a few gems.

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Topics: Gemba Walk

How Visual Management and Visibility Helps Lean Consultants

Posted by Matt Banna

Nov 10, 2017 5:27:00 AM

When you’re a Lean consultant, a big part of your job is to visit your clients on site and help coach them and build their Lean or continuous improvement program. Of course you want to have a big impact while you’re there, but more importantly, you want the results you help your clients achieve to sustain in the long run. In order for that to happen, you need visibility into what your clients are doing on a daily basis.

If you’re lucky, all of your clients are right in your backyard.

But what if they’re more spread out? What if they have multiple locations around the country - or even the world? You might be in San Francisco one week and New York the next.

What problems arise when your clients are spread out and you can’t be everywhere at once?

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Webinar Preview: Cascading Strategy Through Hoshin Kanri

Posted by Mark Graban

Nov 9, 2017 7:18:00 AM

On November 14th, we are excited to be hosting a webinar on Hoshin Kanri (aka Strategy Deployment) that will be presented by Craig Vercrussye and Joanna Omi. Craig and Joanna are both partners with Rona Consulting Group, the Lean practice of Moss Adams.

I managed to snag a few minutes with Craig to get his thoughts and to have a quick conversation about the webinar.

You can listen to the entire discussion here:

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Hoshin Kanri: What? Why? And How?

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Nov 8, 2017 6:09:00 AM

We are fortunate enough to get to spend a lot of time chatting with customers and other organizations that are interested in continuous improvement about how they approach the need for constant positive change.

Many techniques that are used in the Lean and Six Sigma management approaches come up during these conversations, but one which seems to be less understood than many others is Hoshin Kanri.

We hope to provide some useful information on the topic in this post.

For more information, you can register for the upcoming webinar "Cascading Strategy Through Hoshin Kanri."

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Topics: Hoshin Kanri

Top 7 Benefits of a Lean Management System

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 6, 2017 10:45:21 AM

Although it got its start in the auto manufacturing industry, the Lean management approach to business is now widely used in every industry. It is particularly popular in healthcare, construction, and higher education. The Lean methodology and its cousins, Six Sigma, TQM, and others, are popular because they bring order to the essential responsibility of every organization to continually improve operations and results.

While it is certainly possible to implement Lean or another organized management approach without software, many organizations find that a Lean management system is essential to rapid and long-lasting success. The most important features of a Lean management system include:

  • A centralized platform for improvement projects
  • 24x7 access from anywhere
  • Workflow with automated alerts and notifications
  • Robust search capabilities
  • Built-in collaboration tools
  • Advanced reporting and analytics
  • Improvement impact measurement
  • Success broadcasting
  • Data visualization and dashboards


These features make Lean management systems much more effective for managing improvement work than spreadsheets and email. Here are the top ten benefits they provide for organizations that implement the software successfully.

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Topics: Lean, Continuous Improvement Software

Post-Conference: How the KaiNexus Team Debriefs and Improves

Posted by Matt Banna

Oct 31, 2017 2:01:00 PM

Attending a conference and running a booth are completely different experiences.

The KaiNexus team frequently attends conferences - maybe you saw us this year at the Iowa Lean Consortium, the Lean Construction Institute, and the Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit to name a few - to learn more about Lean and support our customers attending these events.

A couple weeks back, the KaiNexus team pulled double duty and attended the Association for Manufacturing Excellence conference in Boston, MA and the Lean Construction Institute conference in Anaheim, CA in back-to-back weeks.

Our goals for the conferences were to see our current customers, learn from the speakers in breakout sessions, see how other vendors set up their booths, and meet as many people as possible.

After the conferences were over, the KaiNexus team gathered together for a debrief. A debrief is a team gathering that discusses positives and areas for improvement after projects or events. In this debrief we discussed our goals heading into the conferences, what we believed our successes to be and how we can improve for future conference outings.

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11 Steps to an Effective Gemba Walk

Posted by Kade Jansson

Oct 26, 2017 2:02:52 PM

Gemba walks are an increasingly popular management technique. By visiting the place where work is done, leaders gain valuable insight into the flow of value through the organization and often uncover opportunities for improvement and learn new ways to support employees. The approach is a collaborative one, with employees providing details about what is done and why.

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Topics: Gemba Walk

Idea Boards for the Modern Workforce

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Oct 25, 2017 7:48:00 AM

Call me crazy, but I think the world’s first idea board was probably painted on a cave. People have an innate ability to process visual information. So it makes sense to me that our early ancestors would have communicated their plans and suggestions with pictures on the wall. They likely had daily huddles and didn’t even know it.

Early humans evolved and eventually spent the workday in an office or factory rather than hunting food in the wilderness. Idea boards evolved too and became a poster board or whiteboard where ideas were collected (often on Post-its) and grouped in deliberate ways to quickly communicate information. The “To-Do, Doing, Done” arrangement is popular because anyone who sees it can immediately assess the amount of work in progress compared to the backlog.

Idea boards are used for serial projects, like software development that has a beginning, middle, and an end. Work moves through the board like a stream. They are also used for “messier” endeavors like brainstorming new product ideas or collecting suggestions for improvement.

In short, idea boards are pretty awesome, but evolution never ends and we’d argue that it’s time to move beyond Post-its and whiteboard markers and make the leap into the cloud by digitizing every idea board. Your modern workforce will thank you for it. Here’s why.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Continuous Improvement Software, Improvement Methodology

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