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KaiNexus Blog

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Ten Mid-Year CI Questions to Ask Every Employee

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Jun 30, 2020 9:00:00 AM

It's hard to believe that the first half of 2020 is in the books. Just kidding. I don't blame you if you feel like there's been 10 years worth of news in the last six months. It's been intense. COVID-19 has impacted every American to varying degrees and much has changed about the way we live and work.

This year, more than ever, it makes sense to do a mid-year check-in with every employee. Despite the challenging situation, continuous improvement driven by every team member is still essential.

By asking the right questions, you might uncover ways that leaders can provide better support for staff members trying to make the best out of difficult circumstances. Here are a few we recommend.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Improvement Culture, Improvement Process

10+ Lean Blogs That You Should Be Reading

Posted by Mark Graban

Jun 26, 2020 9:47:24 AM

For a topic with so many authors, students, practitioners, and leaders, it’s probably no surprise that there are a ton of blogs about Lean - Lean manufacturing, Lean enterprise, Lean thinking, etc. This list includes some bloggers I’ve been reading for the longest time, those who are the most active, and those whose insights are really valuable (and sometimes, people fall into all three categories). It’s hard to list just ten, but I have a longer “blogroll” list and a separate list of Lean healthcare blogs that I maintain on my site.

Note: This blog post was originally written in 2015 and was updated in 2020.

You can also check out these lists that are maintained by Chad Walters and by Joel Gross.

Here’s a list of Lean blogs, in no particular order… it’s a list, not a ranking.

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Topics: Lean

When Zero is the Only Acceptable Goal

Posted by Brianna Hudock

Jun 23, 2020 1:30:00 PM

The Utah Department of Transportation has an audacious goal. Zero fatalities. According to its website, “Zero Fatalities is all about eliminating fatalities on our roadways. Some people may think zero is an impossible goal, but when it comes to your life or the lives of your friends and family, what other number would be acceptable?”

Has the department reached its goal? No. There have been 82 traffic fatalities in Utah this year as of writing this. Does that mean they should revise the target for the second half of the year? Maybe the goal should be to cut fatalities by 10%? Of course not, that would be absurd. Zero remains the only reasonable goal.

While your organization may not be involved in life or death matters, the quest for zero may still be relevant. Zero defects, zero safety incidents, zero rework, zero waste, zero customer complaints: these all may seem like impossible goals. But how many defects, accidents, do-overs, or angry customers are ok? Zero.

The State of Utah didn’t just set a lofty goal. They have a three-step approach to getting there. While the framework is simple, it is a great way to think about improving any outcome. They call it “The Three E’s of Emphasis.”

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Topics: Improvement Process

Gemba Walk Do’s and Don’ts

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jun 18, 2020 12:25:20 PM

Gemba Walks are an important part of many continuous improvement initiatives. They are designed to offer leaders the opportunity to observe work and talk with employees in the place where the work is being done, and it provides insight into current processes and opportunities for improvement.

Although some companies are still primarily remote right now, it's important that you continue to utilize this valuable improvement tool. There are ways to adapt the Gemba walking technique to support a virtual environment. For example, incorporate video conferencing to replace the typical face-to-face interaction. When your team sees you on video, they know that they have your undivided attention. You can find additional tips on how and why to walk the Gemba when everyone is working form home here.

Whether your Gemba Walks are virtual or in person, there are a few best practices to follow and a few pitfalls to avoid.

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Topics: Lean

The Interviewer’s Guide to Hiring for a Kaizen Culture

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jun 16, 2020 9:30:00 AM

Organizations that practice kaizen work hard to maintain a culture centered around continuous improvement. The best defense against push back and poor engagement is hiring only those employees who are likely to thrive in a culture of positive change.

Ideally, the conversation about continuous improvement will begin the moment a candidate is considered. Talking about the principles of kaizen during the interview will show the potential hire how important it is to the organization. The right questions can help you identify those who will do well in your organization and those who should look elsewhere.

Here are a few questions that will give you insight into how the candidate thinks.

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Topics: Kaizen, Improvement Culture

6 Principles of Lean Construction

Posted by Matt Banna

Jun 11, 2020 2:29:58 PM

A growing number of construction firms are embracing the Lean methodology that emphasizes maximizing value for the customer while minimizing waste. The approach is simple and attractive in an industry where budgets, timeframes, and safety are all critical, but the project delivery is very different than traditional construction methods. This makes proper execution of the philosophy and techniques difficult to implement.

Lean construction borrows from the manufacturing approach developed by Toyota after World War II. Of course, it is much easier to produce repeatable, forecastable results in the controlled environment of a factory floor than in the more unpredictable world of construction. Greater variation and workflow disruptions are to be expected.

It is also important to note that there is no one cookie-cutter approach to Lean construction. There are a number of tools, including the Last Planner System, Integrated Project Delivery, Building Information Modeling, 5s, and Kaizen Events, that can be used in combination to achieve Lean. This gives practitioners a wide range of options that can be applied to each project.  

There are, however, guiding principles that help firms achieve lower costs, reduced construction times, more productivity, and efficient project management. They represent a holistic approach to the construction process.

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Topics: Lean

4 Ways to Overcome Resistance to Change

Posted by Clint Corley

Jun 9, 2020 10:00:00 AM

When you ask people if they would like to be involved in continuous improvement, they are likely to say, “Of course!” But ask them if they would like to experience continuous change, and you’re likely to get a different answer. Of course, improvement requires change, so what gives?

The difference is that “improvement” describes the desired state, a positive outcome. “Change” addresses the messy, risky process of getting there. Fear of the unknown is a normal human reaction that keeps us safe in many ways, so it’s normal for people to resist change. It’s also impossible to improve business results without it. That means that leaders need to become exceptionally good at helping people embrace and instigate change. Here are four things you can do to help your organization overcome barriers to change.

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Topics: Change Management

Continuous Improvement & Employee Empowerment at The Standard Group

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jun 5, 2020 8:30:00 AM

The Standard Group is a print management and marketing logistics company based in Reading, Pennsylvania. They specialize in everything from marketing management and direct mail to commercial printing, warehousing and fulfillment, and promotional products. The team at Standard Group has been using KaiNexus to spread their improvement culture since 2017, when Nick Shonsky, their Director of Continuous Improvement, learned about our software from a friend using KaiNexus at another company.

When Shonsky first learned about the eight wastes of Lean, there were two wastes that stood out to him - Defect, and Overproduction. Both of these are inherent in the printing industry, making them a perfect target for waste reduction improvements.

Our team was fortunate enough to be able to visit The Standard Group. The moment I walked onto their print shop floor, I immediately saw how the organization embodies continuous improvement. Hanging from the ceiling throughout the floor are two giant banners - one listing the eight wastes and the other depicting The Standard Group’s Continuous Improvement Pyramid of Success:

 

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The Improvement Project Version of 20 Questions

Posted by Adam Darnell

Jun 3, 2020 9:00:00 AM

I'm sure you've all played the game 20 questions. The goal of the traditional parlor game is to uncover an object chosen by one player by asking questions that eliminate other possibilities until deductive reasoning reveals the answer. Careful selection of questions can significantly improve the odds of the questioner winning the game.

When it comes to improvement projects, it is also true that careful selection of questions can significantly improve the odds of "winning," also known as producing positive change. What follows are 20 questions, that if considered at the outset, can help set your improvement project up for success.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

12 Characteristics of a Lean Organization

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 29, 2020 2:36:08 PM

The renowned football coach and philosopher, Vince Lombardi, once said, “Perfection is unattainable, but if we chase perfection, we catch excellence.

That’s the mindset of a Lean organization. There’s a bedrock belief that every process, investment, employee, or action should directly translate to value for the customer with no waste. That ideal is unattainable, of course, but Lean organizations try to get close to it every day, and in doing so, reach a level of success that their competitors can only envy.  Every Lean organization is unique, but there are some core qualities that they tend to have in common.

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Topics: Lean

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