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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement


Kaizen Event Planning in 7 Simple Steps

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Oct 18, 2017 7:59:00 AM

Here at KaiNexus, we get the opportunity to chat with clients and write about many different continuous improvement tools and techniques. Lately, I’ve been thinking about two things that most of them have in common.

First, they are generally simple, but not easy.

And second, the key to success lies in the planning phase.

Both of these observations apply to Kaizen events. The concept is straightforward. A team sets aside other responsibilities for a few days to focus on solving an important challenge in short order. That’s pretty simple, but getting results requires a significant amount of planning and preparation

Fortunately, there is a well-defined path to success.

Here are the seven simple steps to follow before you kick off your next event.

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Topics: Kaizen, Improvement Methodology

How A3 Software Supports Problem Solving

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Oct 16, 2017 11:20:59 AM

The A3 approach is a brilliantly simple problem-solving technique. It is based on the PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Adjust) improvement cycle and is a systematic method for solving problems on a single piece of paper. This one-pager of A3 size (11 X 17), is how A3 got its name.


The Benefits of the A3 Technique

A3 is popular with Six Sigma and Lean management practitioners and others who are interested in continuous improvement. Organizations benefit from A3 because it:

  • Creates a consistent approach to solving problems throughout the entire organization
  • Requires a balanced way of thinking both visually and analytically (Right Brain/Left Brain)
  • Reduces complexity and keeps focus on the problem
  • Generates alignment and consensus
  • Provides a visual representation of data that is easy for everyone to understand
  • Short circuits the temptation to jump to conclusions and implement improvements without due consideration


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Topics: Continuous Improvement Software

Real Life Examples of the 7 Wastes of Lean

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Oct 13, 2017 12:05:32 PM

Eliminating waste is at the heart of the Lean Business methodology.  The goal of Lean is to spend more of your time creating value for customers by reducing or eliminating everything else - the waste. Several common types of waste have been identified and together represent the “7 Wastes of Lean” (sometimes expressed as "8 types of waste, including the additional "waste of human potential" or "waste of talent").

Some types of waste are fairly self-explanatory, but others can be a bit difficult to grasp. Here are some practical examples of each.


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Topics: Lean

11 Rapid Continuous Improvement Tools and Techniques Explained

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 12, 2017 4:37:49 PM

Leaders who want to develop a culture of rapid continuous improvement have many tools at their disposal. So many, in fact, that it can be difficult to keep them all in mind when deciding how to execute an opportunity for improvement or to address a difficult challenge. Or course, most organizations don’t use all of them at any one time, but each can be remarkably effective when applied to the right situation.

We thought it might be helpful to list some of the more common and useful ones all in one place. Keep on reading for links to more detailed information about each, so that you can dive more deeply into the ones that seem to fit your needs. 

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Topics: Spread Continuous Improvement

DMAIC: A Powerful Tool for Problem Solving

Posted by Kade Jansson

Oct 12, 2017 11:02:25 AM

DMAIC (Deh-May-Ick) is one of the most important tools in the continuous improvement toolbox. It is most closely associated with the Six Sigma methodology, but it is also used by those who practice Lean or don’t subscribe to a methodology at all. The reason that DMAIC is so popular is that it is a problem-solving framework that takes teams from discovering root causes to long-term, stable standard work. It is a repeatable process that employees can learn to apply to any number of process problems.  

DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.  Motorola is credited with bringing it to prominence, although it was essentially an evolution of the improvement methodology used by Toyota.

A deeper dive reveals why it works so well.


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Topics: Six Sigma, DMAIC

Essential Elements of Effective Lean Training

Posted by Matt Banna

Oct 10, 2017 7:40:00 AM

The Lean methodology offers a very different approach to work than most people have experienced. It requires both a change in mindset and the use of various tools and techniques. Organizations that successfully adopt Lean and reap the many benefits have a number of things in common. They embrace the approach wholeheartedly, creating a Lean culture. They deploy software to support the practice, and they effectively train employees when it is introduced, when new employees join the organization, and when needed to refresh and improve the team’s understanding of lean.  

Any thorough Lean training curriculum should include these critical elements.

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Topics: Lean

Advice on Daily Huddles, Scope Creep and Shifting Your Focus

Posted by Matt Banna

Oct 4, 2017 9:29:48 AM

In episode 16 of our webinar series Ask Us Anything, which you can find here, KaiNexus CEO and Co-founder Greg Jacobson and Mark Graban, our Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services and founder of LeanBlog.org, answered more questions from KaiNexus webinar viewers.


If you don't have time to watch the video, we have summarized the second half of that episode right here. You can also read the summary of the first half of that episode on our blog here.

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Ask Us Anything: Improving the Patient Experience with Lean

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Oct 3, 2017 2:37:01 PM

If you’re a big Apple fan, you may have missed episode 16 of our webinar series Ask Us Anything, which was recorded on the same day as the Apple Special Event where the new iPhone was announced.

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A Simple Introduction to Putting Process Control Charts to Work

Posted by Matt Banna

Sep 29, 2017 9:07:00 AM

We’ve written a few posts introducing process control charts and explaining why they are so useful. Today we want to dig a little bit deeper and get into the weeds of actually putting them to work.

As we’ve noted, a process control chart is a graph used to monitor how a process behaves over time. Data are plotted in time order. A control chart always has a central line for the average (sometimes a median), an upper line for the upper control limit, and a lower line for the lower control limit. These lines are calculated from historical data and usually cover three standard deviations from the mean.

Process control charts help get managers out of the trap of overrreacting to every up and down in the data. It also helps avoid problems caused by only looking at average results. Instead, they help leaders understand the variation of results. Why does variation matter? Consider an example, if you are planning an event and are told that the average age of attendees is 32, you might ponder a swanky cocktail party. But in reality, your guests might include many children and elderly people, who aren’t interested in a dry martini. More information is always better.

So where to begin? Here is a quick guide to implementing and using process control charts.


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Topics: Continuous Improvement Software, Visual Management

The Important Advantages of Hoshin Kanri for Strategic Planning

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Sep 27, 2017 11:46:40 AM

Hoshin Kanri, also known as "strategy deployment," is a formal Lean technique used to identify an organization’s breakthrough objectives and create a defined three to five-year plan for achieving them. The process is associated with identifying the organization’s true north and aligning the goals and objectives of each employee with the strategic plan.

The typical process involves 6 steps:

  • Define "true north" that will stay fairly consistent over time
  • Identify significant business issues that need to be solved over a 3 to 5-year timeline
  • Establish specific measurable objectives to resolve these issues
  • Define key performance indicators (KPIs) for every level of the organization
  • Develop strategies, projects, and tactics to support the achievement of these goals
  • Review progress on a monthly and annual basis

Unlike other approaches to planning, Hoshin Kanri is not done from the top-down. People at every level of the organization are involved in setting the priorities and laying out the plan for success. A technique called Catchball, where ideas are passed from one level of the hierarchy to another is commonly used during Hoshin planning.

Hoshin Kanri has a number of advantages over other strategic planning methodologies. Here are the chief reasons it is so popular.

Free Guide to Strategy Deployment

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Topics: Hoshin Kanri