High-reliability organizations (HROs) are those that successfully complete their missions despite massive complexity and high risk. Examples include the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Control system, aircraft carriers, nuclear power plants, and NASA. In each case, even a minor error could have catastrophic consequences. Yet, adverse outcomes in these organizations are rare. How is it possible that we can go years without a commercial airline accident, but the guy at the drive through can’t seem to get your order right?
Mar 7, 2019 7:32:00 AM
Mar 5, 2019 8:01:00 AM
A while back, we recently had the honor of hosting a webinar with our Senior Advisor, Mark Graban, author of "Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More." Mark’s new book focuses on managing variation, understanding data, and leading improvement. Mark has been a part of KaiNexus in various capacities since 2011. He is an internationally-recognized consultant, published author, professional speaker, and blogger. Mark has a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from Northwestern and a Masters in mechanical engineering and an MBA from MIT.
This post is a recap of Mark’s presentation. However, the webinar is full of examples that will make a lot more sense if you see the charts that he uses by way of explanation, so we highly recommend that you watch the webinar.
Mar 4, 2019 10:30:00 AM
Agility is perhaps one of the most essential qualities of successful modern companies. The ability to adapt to changing marketing conditions and customer needs is crucial to survival in today’s hyper-competitive environment. Organizations that are prepared to change when necessary can capture new opportunities, eliminate threats, and delight customers.
Change management software helps ensure that change does not become chaos. Adjustments to processes should be made thoughtfully, preferably using a structured improvement cycle like PDSA, or DMAIC. With change management software in place, innovation becomes deliberate, and the thinking behind each improvement is transparent. Here are six ways that change management software helps to promote sustained and purposeful innovation.
Feb 27, 2019 7:32:00 AM
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” – Peter Drucker
We’re not going to lie. Improving workplace culture is hard. A healthy culture can’t be bought, and it can’t be mandated. Every company has a culture. Great ones are earned.
Whether your culture is toxic, or you just want to find ways to lift it up, this post is about why and how to transform what equates to the DNA of your organization.
Topics: Improvement Culture
Feb 26, 2019 8:08:00 AM
You know that Lean software would help your organization implement more opportunities for improvement, eliminate waste, sustain improvement, and get more people involved in positive change. You know that the investment will reap significant returns by increasing and calculating the impact of improvement work. Your CEO, on the other hand, hasn’t quite seen the light.
That’s OK. Investing in technology to support Lean is a big step, and it isn’t free, so a bit of reluctance is natural. In most cases, the key to convincing top executives that Lean software will be worth it is to stay away from feature/function discussions and focus on their top-of-mind concerns. The practical advantages of Lean software like streamlined communication, document management, and automated alerts aren’t what typically gets CEOs excited.
Here’s what does.
Feb 21, 2019 8:42:00 AM
Standard work is the documented and current best way to do a particular task, procedure or process. Workers develop the standard and follow it until an improvement process results in a new standard. Standard work ensures that results are consistent and forms the foundation upon which improvements are made. Leader standard work applies this same concept to the task of driving Lean thinking and behavior throughout the organization.
Many organizations have little in the way of documented best practices for leaders. Supervisors, managers, and directors are left with only their job description to guide their daily activities. Given this reality, it's not surprising that many fail to start, spread, and sustain the continuous improvement mindset.
The alternative is leader standard work which is a set of actions, tools, and behaviors that are incorporated into the daily activities of leaders at all levels. Like the standard work for any process, leader standard work must be documented, practiced consistently, and changed only with reflection and experimentation.
Although the specifics of leader standard work vary across organizations, some practices are universally useful and commonly included.
Feb 20, 2019 11:03:10 AM
We’ve written before about how the Lean management approach is prevalent in almost every industry. That’s because its twin pillars of continuous improvement and respect for people make sense in every sector. Supporting those pillars are the five principles of Lean. This post takes a closer look at each of them and will give you some questions to ask yourself that will help you find how best to apply them in your organization.
Value is defined as anything that the customer wants and will pay for. Only the customer gets to decide what represents value. Successful companies are those that provide value more efficiently than the competition. Because Lean organizations have value as a first principle, they are necessarily customer-centric.
How do you know if your organization is living the principle of value? Ask yourself these questions, and the answer to that should be clear.
- How do I know what the customer values?
- Is customer value a daily topic of discussion?
- Does customer value drive decisions?
- Is what the customer values static or does it change?
Feb 13, 2019 10:04:46 AM
Are you trying to spread an improvement culture without the improvement software?
You invest in software for all of the important parts of your business, right?
People. That software exists for continuous improvement, too.
When you started on your improvement journey, you may not realize it, but you actually already made a technology decision. I bet you probably managed the work in spreadsheets and bulletin boards - these are technology! Now that you’re starting to engage more people in it, though, I bet that you’re finding that it’s hard to get the visibility you need to spread that culture efficiently and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Your technology needs an upgrade.
You could theoretically use Dropbox and a folder structure to manage critical components of your business - say, for example, your medical records or accounting transactions - but I promise you, no one is putting their organizations at risk like that. They use software built specifically for the business issue you’re dealing with.
It continues to baffle me that organizations don’t take improvement software as seriously as they take their accounting platform or their medical records system.
Realizing that, it can be tempting to have your IT department build you a solution in SharePoint - which, out of the box, is just another document storage repository and an easy way to make website portals.
There’s not an IT department in the world that would volunteer to build a medical records system themselves when they know there’s software out there built specifically for this purpose. They understand that the resources it would take to build, maintain, and improve the system would be astronomical. I could wax poetic on the decision to build software vs. buying it, but I’ll spare you and just offer up this post and this one with more details on the topic.
Topics: Continuous Improvement Software
Feb 12, 2019 8:17:00 AM
No executive in the world would turn down operational excellence if you handed it to them on a platter even if they don’t exactly know what it is. It just sounds like something awesome. But operational excellence isn’t like an hors d'oeuvre you can pluck off a tray. In order to be achieved, it must be clearly understood, injected into the culture, and supported with a methodology to guide decisions. The principles of excellence must become ingrained in everyday activities. Getting there isn’t easy, but it is operationally excellent companies that can achieve rapid growth and sustain a leading market position.
Feb 11, 2019 12:37:00 PM
When I was a kid, my mother helped motivate and organize her workforce (aka, my sisters and me) with a chore chart. Each week we had tasks assigned and got to put a sticker on the chart when the job was satisfactorily completed. This wasn’t exactly an innovation in parenting, but it worked well for our family. We each knew what we had to do and adding the sticker was a small reward and a visible reminder that we had done what we were asked.
We don’t really need “chore charts” in business, of course. But the advantages of organizing work visually are even more apparent. After all, navigating an entire organization toward breakthrough strategic objectives is far more difficult than getting four kids to straighten up.
How do you know if your organization could benefit from visual task management? Here are some pretty telling signs.
Topics: Visual Management