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KaiNexus Blog

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Common Questions About the DMAIC Improvement Cycle

Posted by Jeff Roussel

May 23, 2018 8:11:00 AM

DMAIC is said to be the Six Sigma methodology’s roadmap to improvement. It is one of the core tools of the approach, but organizations also use it as a standalone improvement technique. We have clients in almost every industry from healthcare to construction who have achieved quantifiable impact against core business metrics by using this technique. Here are some of the questions we get asked about it most often.

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Topics: Six Sigma, Improvement Process, DMAIC

Why You Need to At Least Consider a Digital Kanban Board

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 22, 2018 1:35:26 PM

The Kanban technique started in the late 1940’s as Toyota looked to rethink its approach to manufacturing. The object was to reduce waste, improve efficiency and enable what’s come to be known as just-in-time manufacturing. Toyota’s workers displayed colorful Kanban cards to communicate to downstream workers that there was a demand for parts. (Kanban means “visual signal” or “shopkeepers card” in Japanese.) This visual management approach helped teams communicate instantly about what needed to be done and when.

Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that the Kanban approach has evolved to be useful for information workers and others in a variety of industries. The most common application is a physical board that shows work that is in the queue, in-progress, and completed. A physical Kanban board works great for small, centrally located teams with a limited number of projects in play at any one time. However, more complex groups which are distributed and organizations that want a centralized view of all improvement work have turned to digital Kanban boards instead. Here are a few benefits of the approach.

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Topics: Kanban, Improvement Process

Our Best Tips for a Successful Kaizen Event

Posted by Jeff Roussel

May 16, 2018 7:35:00 AM

Kaizen events are a frequent subject of discussion when we are meeting with potential clients or others who are interested in the technology that powers improvement. Although we talk to folks in almost every industry, almost everyone we talk to has one thing in common. They’ve lived through a disastrous - or at least ineffective - Kaizen event. We’re not surprised because there are lots of ways that rapid improvement blitzes can go off the rails. We don’t want that to happen to you, so we’ve assembled a list of our most important advice for making your Kaizen event a smashing success.

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Topics: Kaizen

Causes and Solutions for Resistance to Lean in Construction

Posted by Matt Banna

May 15, 2018 11:27:56 AM

The Lean business management approach may have started with ideas formed in the Japanese auto industry, but today, it is used by industries of all sorts from healthcare to higher education. Many architecture, engineering, and construction companies are also leveraging the methodology to combat the fact that 80% of capital projects end up over budget or schedule, or both. As with anything new, there has been some resistance to the adoption of Lean in construction. This post takes a look at a few of the most common root causes for the reluctance to adopt Lean techniques and how to overcome them.

Value is centered on knowing vs. learning

In construction, a high value is placed on skilled craftwork. This is true for design and engineering as well as more traditional construction trades. Each group is proud of its abilities and is generally protective of their unique set of hard-won skills. Jobs in construction go to those who know how to ply their trade, not necessarily to those who need to learn. The idea that improvement is needed runs contrary to a culture centered around competence.

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Topics: Lean, lean construction

3 Questions to Ask Your Staff to Increase Engagement in Kaizen

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 11, 2018 10:42:03 AM

We know that 80% of the improvement potential in any organization lies in the frontline staff. After all, the people who actually perform the work of the business day in and day out are the ones best able to identify failings in the processes and opportunities to improve. Managers and senior leaders can come up with improvements that align with the organization's mission and goals, sure, but they don't know the nitty-gritty details of the daily work like their employees do. That's why it's so crucial to get every person at every level of the organization involved in improvement.

In fact, the most successful kaizen cultures go so far as to require their employees to participate in kaizen.

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Everyday Examples of Visual Management

Posted by Matt Banna

May 8, 2018 10:46:52 AM

When we write about visual management, we are usually talking about sophisticated quality management tools like Kanban, huddle boards, and the dashboards available in the KaiNexus application. These are all incredibly valuable applications of visual management in the workplace, but visual management is actually all around you. Understanding these everyday examples of visualization may help you apply the same principles more thoughtfully at work.

Visual management falls into six categories based on the purpose.

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Topics: Continuous Improvement Software, Visual Management

Strategies for Driving Collaboration Across Organizations [Webinar]

Posted by Clint Corley

May 4, 2018 7:42:00 AM

Trust is crucial to collaboration. Open body language and candid communication invite others to be vulnerable, which can help all parties learn from one another and improve.

Does that sound appealing?

We think so too.

KaiNexus discussed a number of strategies for driving collaboration in a webinar with Teresa Hay McMahon, Executive Director of the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC), and Stephanie Hill, Corporate Continuous Improvement Manager at ILC member organization Kreg Tool.

The ILC is a connector rather than a provider, with roughly 120 member organizations across various industries and sectors. The nonprofit promotes the three following strategies to facilitate rapid, open relationship building:

  • Networking – exchanging information with another person for business purposes (either short- or long-term)
  • Benchmarking – holding another business up as a standard for comparison so you can improve your product or strategy
  • Collaborating – working with another person or business toward a definite end goal


These strategies can be leveraged to enhance performance and drive continuous improvement. In this post, we are going to focus on collaboration across industries.

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Are You Making One of These Idea Board Mistakes?

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 3, 2018 7:42:00 AM

Idea boards are a common and useful tool for collecting ideas for improvement and displaying the status of projects. The instinct is spot on. This type of visualization creates clear communication, inspires action and creativity, and helps emphasize the importance of employee engagement.

However, we often hear from leaders who have had bad experiences and achieved no significant results with idea boards.

What are they doing wrong?

If they are using a physical idea board, like the ones we see so often arranged in the “To-Do, Doing, Done” format they likely suffer from one or more of the following common mistakes.

Do you?

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Topics: Visual Management

Common Questions about Lean Management Systems

Posted by Jeff Roussel

May 2, 2018 8:31:00 AM

Then the Lean management methodology was first developed, based largely on the management techniques of Toyota and other Japanese automakers, it was mostly used in manufacturing. Today, the approach has been embraced by almost every industry. Along the way, software has been developed to support the approach. When we chat with people about the details of these Lean management systems, we are often asked some standard questions. Here are the answers.

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Topics: Lean

When Leaders Collaborate: Lean Transformation [Webinar Overview]

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Apr 27, 2018 7:45:00 AM

Lean transformation is rooted in collaboration and transparency.

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