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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement


The Vital Role of Electronic Kaizen at Toyota Memorial Hospital

Posted by Mark Graban

Sep 16, 2021 5:27:45 PM

Lean or the Toyota Production System often gets an unfair rap for being "anti-technology." Some of this mindset results from the old debate between using Material Resource Planning (MRP) computer systems to plan production or the more visual Lean methods of kanban cards and heijunka boxes. Even Toyota uses MRP systems, but they used them in their proper role—long-term planning instead of day-to-day execution.

Toyota uses a lot of technology on the production line, even though their factories tend to be slightly LESS automated than American or European automakers. Principle #8 of "The Toyota Way" philosophy spells out their view:

"Use only reliable, thoroughly-tested technology that serves your people and process."

Toyota doesn't expect technology to be a silver bullet (neither do we at KaiNexus). A Lean thinker would say not to automate a flawed process—for example, you shouldn't implement an "electronic suggestion box" that just digitizes or automates an old busted model—we need Kaizen practices and mindsets, and technology (like ours) can support people and their improvement process.

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Topics: Kaizen

Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control: Five Differences

Posted by JJ Puentes

Sep 14, 2021 10:36:00 AM

People often use the terms quality assurance and quality control interchangeably. However, although they are similar, there are essential differences between the two ideas. Each is a piece of the quality management puzzle. While some quality assurance and quality control activities are related, the goals and tools of each are different. 

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Topics: Quality, Operational Excellence

5S: The Lean Gold Standard for Workplace Organization

Posted by Noah Paratore

Sep 13, 2021 12:12:33 PM

5S is a Lean manufacturing technique that addresses the organization of workspaces and work processes for a safer and more efficient manufacturing facility. It is called 5S because the five steps in this Lean tool, sorting, setting, shining, standardizing, and sustaining, start with the letter S in English and Japanese.

While much talk about 5S is geared toward manufacturers' needs, the 5S visual control technique can be of great value in other environments, such as healthcare, construction, education, and office settings.

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Topics: 5S

The Total Quality Management (TQM) Improvement System

Posted by Kade Jansson

Sep 9, 2021 1:35:30 PM

The Total Quality Management system (abbreviated as TQM) as it is practiced today was developed by Dr. William Deming, a famed management consultant. His work helped transform Japanese manufacturing after World War II.

Although TQM has a lot in common with the Six Sigma methodology, they are not the same. Total Quality Management is focused on ensuring that process standards ensure a great customer experience, while Six Sigma is designed to reduce defects. The practice of TQM is about holding all parties involved in the production process accountable for the quality of the final product or service. It revolves around a customer-focused desire to achieve long-term success.

Let's look at how.

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Topics: Improvement Methodology

Improving Business Operations to Achieve Excellence

Posted by Adam Darnell

Sep 7, 2021 3:09:05 PM

What is Operational Excellence?

Executing a business strategy more effectively and consistently than the competition is called Operational Excellence. Ideally, every employee can see the flow of value to the customer and fix it when the flow is interrupted.

We are often asked if continuous improvement and operational excellence are the same. They are not, but they are closely related. Continuous improvement involves constantly improving your business operations to reduce waste, cut costs, improve quality, and maximize human potential. It focuses on making each existing process perfect. Operational excellence goes further. It involves setting the organization up for growth by understanding what the market wants and creating an uninterrupted value stream that continuously feeds the need.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Culture, Strategy Deployment, Operational Excellence

Kaizen: The Japanese Approach to Continuous Improvement

Posted by Morgan Wright

Sep 2, 2021 10:16:00 AM

In the business management context, continuous improvement means a never-ending effort to identify and eliminate the root causes of problems that produce errors or diminish customer value. Most often, it consists of many incremental improvements rather than one drastic change. Continuous improvement is an integral part of Japanese culture, which endeavors to improve on an ongoing basis. In Japan, improvement involves everyone, including management and labor, in finding and eliminating waste in materials, labor, machinery, and production methods.

The Japanese word Kaizen is often used interchangeably with the idea of continuous improvement. The Japanese character kai means change, and the character zen means good. Thus, Kaizen is good change.

Even though Kaizen is a Japanese idea, many companies in the US have implemented it with great success by joining the best of traditional Japanese management practices with the strengths of Western businesses. By combining the benefits of teamwork with the individual's creativity, the best of both worlds results. Kaizen is closely associated with lean manufacturing in the West because continuous improvement combined with just-in-time manufacturing principles form the foundation of lean.

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Topics: Kaizen

Visual Strategy Deployment is Supported by the X-Matrix

Posted by Elise Miller

Sep 1, 2021 9:36:00 AM

Operationalizing strategy is one of the most critical responsibilities of business leaders. Mapping out the direction for the organization and making choices that move the organization closer to its long-term goals is the essence of leadership. But, of course, it is more complicated than it sounds. Daily emergencies compete for attention and resources with top-level, so it is easy to lose focus on long-term goals. 

Many organizations turn to a practice called Hoshin Kanri to overcome this challenge. Hoshin planning is a method for closing the gap between strategy and execution. By defining the organization's strategic goals and cascading objectives down to each person, leaders can align priorities and move everyone toward the same ends. Ideally, everyday process improvement is in lock-step with the strategy, and decision-making is constant. 

Mounds of research make it clear that people understand visual information more readily than text. As a result, leaders invested in continuous improvement look for ways to implement visual management. When it comes to visualizing Hoshin Kanri, the go-to planning tool is the X-matrix.

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Ensure Alignment With the Strategy Execution Framework

Posted by JJ Puentes

Aug 31, 2021 11:05:09 AM

The modern, technology-driven business landscape offers countless opportunities to introduce new products and services to the market. Unfortunately, even the most innovative leaders with clear visions often fail to achieve their strategic goals. Many organizations can’t meet the challenge to effectively define, staff, and manage the set of projects and programs necessary to see the strategy succeed.

The Strategic Execution Framework (SEF) developed by the Stanford Advanced Project Management program offers a structure to improve strategy execution abilities and speed organization through systemic change that leads to high performance and returns on strategic initiatives. 

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How & Why to Introduce the CQI Proces to New Employees

Posted by JJ Puentes

Aug 27, 2021 10:55:05 AM

I've noticed something interesting in all articles and blogs I read about CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement). Most of the writing addresses how to launch a new CQI program for the organization, which is obviously essential. However, I've found less written about how to bake CQI into the onboarding process for new employees. After you've been doing CQI for a while, it will be second-hand nature for your existing team, but your new hire may have no experience with Kaizen or daily improvement.

Here are some ways our customers have had success getting new team members ready to contribute to positive change right out of the gate.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Quality

Examples of the 8 Wastes of Lean in Everyday Life

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 26, 2021 10:39:25 AM

If you are striving to become a Lean organization, waste elimination is probably near the top of your list. In fact, Lean practitioners have identified very specific types of waste, known collectively as the 8 Wastes of Lean. Certain types of waste are really easy to spot and fix, while others can remain unnoticed. We thought it might be helpful to share some practical examples of how each type of waste occurs in business and in the larger world.

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Topics: Lean, Daily Lean Management, Lean Healthcare

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