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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement

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Jake Sussman

Jake Sussman is the VP of Customer Experience at KaiNexus. Jake works with organizations as they partner with KaiNexus to start, spread and sustain improvement cultures. As the leader of Customer Experience, Jake leads various teams including implementation, training, and account management ensuring that KaiNexus customers have the tools and resources necessary to spread improvement. Jake is a customer advocate and believes that employees should have a role in building the collective experience a company provides to their customers. He has a background in marketing and technology and has worked with several early to mid-stage companies to build and scale customer teams. Jake also currently serves on the board of MusicTechandFood.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting hunger. Jake received his BSBA from the University of Denver in 2004. A new father of two boys, he enjoys being outside in Central Texas with his growing family.
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Recent Posts

Strategy Deployment Tips for 2020

Posted by Jake Sussman

Aug 28, 2019 9:07:38 AM


It may seem early to start thinking about the strategic plan for 2020, but the kids are back in school, and pumpkin spice is on the shelves, so it is time to start at least planning for the plan. Our clients who have achieved their most lofty goals have done so by laying a strong foundation upon which the strategy and related tactics can be built. Here are some of the things they've found that work.

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Topics: Strategy Deployment

The Lean Linchpin: Middle Managers

Posted by Jake Sussman

Jul 29, 2019 3:07:21 PM

A linchpin is a fastener passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position. The term is also used figuratively, according to Wikipedia, to describe, “something [or someone] that holds the various elements of a complicated structure together.” What an apt description of the role of middle managers in a Lean environment.

When we talk about the Lean business management approach or just continuous improvement in general, we often say that it involves everyone from the CEO to front line workers. In the literature about Lean, a lot of emphasis is put on what top leaders need to do to create a culture of improvement. There’s also much discussion about how to keep operational workers involved and engaged. Both are essential, but it is a huge mistake to underestimate the role of middle management.

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Topics: Lean, Leadership, Daily Lean Management

2 Popular Process Improvement Methodologies Explained

Posted by Jake Sussman

Jul 19, 2019 8:41:00 AM

The world’s most successful organizations are relentless in their quest for flawless processes and perfect execution. The ability to reliably produce quality outcomes with minimal waste is elusive but achievable with the right leadership and attention. That’s why many organizations turn to proven process improvement methodologies and techniques.

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Topics: Lean, Six Sigma, Continuous Improvement Software

6 Things People Need to Hear About Kaizen Events

Posted by Jake Sussman

Jul 5, 2019 11:50:49 AM

With more and more companies in almost every industry adopting the Lean management approach or at least taking a few pages from it, Kaizen events are more popular than ever. That’s wonderful because they can be a very useful tool for improving processes and teaching leadership. But, unfortunately, we’ve seen too many instances of organizations that try to cut corners or fail to understand the best way to utilize Kaizen events. It would be nice if they were as easy as getting a few folks in a room for a couple of days and – presto – problem solved.

Sadly, that’s not how it works. We hate to burst the bubble, but Kaizen events require planning, leadership, and precise application. Here is the truth about successful rapid improvement events, whether folks want to hear it or not.

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Topics: Lean, Kaizen

How to Navigate the Hoshin Kanri Planning Process

Posted by Jake Sussman

Jun 20, 2019 8:42:00 AM

One of the most important and challenging responsibilities of leaders is setting the strategic direction of the organization and steering everyone toward it. Sometimes, the ultimate goal is called “True North.” Hoshin Kanri is a strategic planning process that was first crafted by Professor Yoji Akao in Japan in the 1950s. Hoshin is the Japanese word for “direction” or “compass needle,” while Kanri means “management.” Hoshin Kanri is also sometimes called strategy deployment or policy deployment.

The Hoshin planning process recognizes that it is essential to work toward the organization’s three to five breakthrough goals that will take multiple years to achieve, while at the same time making daily, incremental improvements that will help reach the desired state. It is not like other forms of annual goal setting that become document artifacts that are pulled out once a year for review. Instead, Hoshin Kanri is an active method of management that becomes part of the thinking of every person in the organization.

Most organizations have seven steps in the Hoshin Kanri planning process. Although each is relatively simple, attention to detail and excellent documentation is essential.

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Topics: Hoshin Kanri

How to Justify, Evaluate, and Implement Kaizen Software Solutions

Posted by Jake Sussman

Jun 6, 2019 9:48:49 AM

We get the chance to chat with lots of people who have concluded that a Kaizen software solution will help them get the most out of their continuous improvement efforts. But most people have never sought such a solution before, and they are unsure how to convince the rest of the organization that it is time to move forward.

To help, we’ve put together some tips on how to convince the team that investing in a software solution for Kaizen will result in positive returns, demonstrate that you know what to look for, and give everyone confidence that implementation will be successful.

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Topics: Kaizen, Software

Which Lean Manufacturing Tools Can Improvement Software Enhance?

Posted by Jake Sussman

May 22, 2019 12:39:31 PM

One of the reasons that the Lean manufacturing business methodology is so popular with companies in every industry is that it comes complete with a set of tools for structuring and managing the goal of continuous improvement and waste reduction. These tools are great on their own, but many of them become even more valuable when improvement management software is used as a single platform for managing positive change. This post examines some of the most often used.

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Topics: Lean, Software, Daily Lean Management, Continuous Improvement Software

11 Essential Elements of a Kaizen Event Charter

Posted by Jake Sussman

May 7, 2019 1:30:15 PM

While we are huge fans of standardization and consistency, we understand that each Kaizen event is unique. That’s why we would expect that each event charter has its own nuances that change from one project to the next. However, there are some elements that our clients have found to make the difference between a successful event and one that does not reach the mark.

Before we get into the specifics of what should be included in the charter document, we’d like to add a note about access. You may have the most complete, and well-written Kaizen event charter on the planet, but it is of no use unless everyone who needs access to it can get to it with ease.

Whether you craft it as a document, use an Excel format, or something else, your improvement management platform is the best place for it to live.

Now on to the must-have components.

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Topics: Kaizen, Improvement Process

Different Ways of Getting Started with Lean Healthcare

Posted by Jake Sussman

Jun 14, 2018 7:11:00 AM

Even after about 20 years of Lean adoption in some healthcare organizations, there are still others that are just getting started. There are many paths for starting Lean healthcare in your hospital, health system, or clinic and there’s an opportunity to learn from the lessons of those who went before you.

Here are some of the different ways to start, stated with some of the pros and cons.

Rapid Improvement Events

Some hospitals take the approach of starting with many Rapid Improvement Events (RIEs), sometimes known as Kaizen Events or Rapid Process Improvement Workshops (RPIWs). These events generally range from two to five days and give staff and leaders dedicated time to work on significant problems that need to be solved.

One pro is that RIEs can be used to solve problems that can make a significant impact on measures that matter, including safety, quality, patient flow, cost, and staff morale - that is if projects are selected carefully. One downside to starting with RIEs is it can take a long time to get everybody in the organization exposed to Lean through the RIE learning-by-doing approach. Some organizations, like ThedaCare, have learned that RIEs need to be supplemented by other methods, like Daily Kaizen, Lean management system practices, and strategy deployment.

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Topics: Lean Healthcare

A Few Profound Thoughts on Gemba Walks

Posted by Jake Sussman

Nov 14, 2017 7:34:00 AM

As I was researching our upcoming post on the Pioneers of Lean Leadership, I came across a quote by Taiichi Ohno, one of the fathers of the Toyota Way and Kaizen. On the subject of Gemba walks, he said, “When you go out into the workplace, you should be looking for things that you can do for your people there. You’ve got no business in the workplace if you’re just there to be there. You’ve got to be looking for changes you can make for the benefit of the people who are working there.

This is a deeply important idea that encapsulates the purpose of going to the Gemba as well as the difference between Gemba walks and management by walking around. I especially appreciate that he focused on making changes to benefit the people who are doing the work, not simply to reduce waste or cut costs. When workers feel productive and engaged, amazing results can occur.

I wondered if other leaders had thought-provoking things to say about Gemba walks and it turns out they certainly do. Here are a few gems.

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Topics: Gemba Walk

Recent Posts