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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement

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Kade Jansson

Kade Jansson is a self-described "nerd", who enjoys blending business and technology to assist in lean and efficient practices. He grew up in Utah, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree from Utah Valley University in Business Management. Kade understands the importance of a technological advantage in today's fast-paced business world. Over the last ten years, he has enjoyed putting that knowledge to use while implementing business software into a variety of different markets. Loving his move to Austin, TX just over six years ago, Kade plans on staying. He enjoys the outdoors and spends as much time as possible camping, swimming, and disc golfing. He also enjoys tinkering with a variety of electronics and loves to drive his fiance crazy with the "latest and greatest" ways to electronify their home.
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Recent Posts

11 Steps to an Effective Gemba Walk

Posted by Kade Jansson

Jun 6, 2017 8:23:00 AM

Gemba walks are an increasingly popular management technique. By visiting the place where work is done, leaders gain valuable insight into the flow of value through the organization and often uncover opportunities for improvement and learn new ways to support employees. The approach is a collaborative one, with employees providing details about what is done and why.

Great results depend on thoughtful planning, execution, and follow-up. Here are the most important steps you can take to ensure that your next Gemba walk is successful.

1 – Prepare the Team

It is important that the team members who will be observed and engaged during the walk have a good understanding of what a Gemba walk is and how it will be useful. They should know that the purpose is ultimately to remove obstacles that make it more difficult for them to add the maximum amount of value. Talking about the walk before it happens will help everyone feel more comfortable and open to the interaction.

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Topics: Gemba Walk

How Software Makes Gemba Walks More Effective

Posted by Kade Jansson

May 16, 2017 12:50:20 PM

We get the chance to chat with a lot of frontline employees, managers, and executive leaders about all aspects of continuous improvement. We love to learn about how organizations are using the techniques and tools of Lean and other methodologies to improve results and reach their most important business goals. Gemba Walks are a practice that comes up quite a bit. Some leaders find them to be incredibly effective and welcomed by managers and staff alike, while others find them to be a chore with disappointing results.

Why is that?

Proper technique is certainly an issue (there are lots of ways that Gemba Walks can go wrong), but the use of software to support the effort also makes a big difference.

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Here’s how it helps.

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Topics: Continuous Improvement Software, Gemba Walk

Common Questions about Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI)

Posted by Kade Jansson

May 5, 2017 7:05:00 AM

We’ve noticed a theme to many of the conversations that we’ve been having with clients and at the events we’ve attended lately. Lots of folks have questions about the concept of Continuous Quality Improvement or CQI for short. We’ve put together some answers to the questions we are asked most often and even a few that people don’t ask, but they really should.

Is Continuous Quality Improvement Just for Manufacturing Companies?

This comes up quite a bit with many of the methodologies that our improvement management software helps customers manage. The literature around CQI and other techniques is full of references to manufacturing because many of the methods got their start in that sector. Approaches like Lean, Six Sigma, TQM and others were first applied in auto manufacturing and then spread to factories that made just about anything.

But other industries began to take note of the success of improvement efforts in manufacturing and realized that the core principles of CQI can be applied to almost any sector. We now see the approach being applied in healthcare, higher education, construction, software development, transportation and almost any industry you can name. This is because all of them are made up of a series of processes that can be broken down, analyzed and made better.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Quality, Spread Continuous Improvement, Improvement Methodology

"Lean Thinking" and the 5 Principles of Lean Manufacturing

Posted by Kade Jansson

May 2, 2017 7:02:00 AM

James Womack and Dan Jones are the founders of the Lean Enterprise Institute and the Lean Enterprise Academy (UK), respectively. Their book, Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, is considered by some to be the bible of Lean manufacturing.  It was originally published in 1996 based on their in-depth study of Toyota’s fabled Toyota Production System (TPS). Philip Caldwell Chairman and CEO of Ford from 1980-1985, said of the book, “Truly remarkable...The most comprehensive, instructive, mind-stretching and provocative analysis of any major industry I have ever known.” 

Lean Thinking lays out the five Lean manufacturing principles; value, value streams, flow, pull, and perfection.  Here’s some insight into what Womack and Jones meant by each.

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Topics: Lean, Daily Lean Management

16 Questions to Ask on Your First (or Next) Gemba Walk

Posted by Kade Jansson

Apr 24, 2017 10:09:10 AM

Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho gave a brilliantly simple description of what to do on a Gemba walk. "Go see, ask why, show respect," he said. That’s it in a nutshell. During a Gemba walk, supervisors and leaders go to the place where work is done (the Gemba). They observe (not fix) processes and activities and ask questions that will help lead to future improvements.

“Why?” is certainly an important question, but it is by no means the only one. We’ve put together a list of other questions that may be useful, especially if you are new to Gemba walks or if you are taking a look at a process for the first time. They may not all make sense in your situation, but perhaps they will trigger additional ideas.

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Topics: Daily Lean Management, Gemba Walk

The 5 Worst Things You Could Do When Using the DMAIC Framework

Posted by Kade Jansson

Apr 5, 2017 7:17:00 AM

If you’re using the Six Sigma methodology to create change and sustain continuous improvement in your organization, you’re likely using, or will use, DMAIC (pronounced "de-may-ick"). DMAIC is an acronym that outlines a framework for identifying and challenging sources of waste, poor quality, and inefficient processes and then looking for opportunities for improvement.

What is DMAIC?

  • Define:  Outline the goals of the project and the customer deliverables so that it’s known when success has been reached.
  • Measure:  Assess the current performance of the process to use as a quantified baseline for measurement later.
  • Analyze:  Uncover the defects to find the root cause of the problem(s) so that you can target improvement work.
  • Improve:  Identify, implement, and test a solution to resolving the problem(s).
  • Control:  Determine if the improvement can be maintained, or if it can be used to improve the performance of other processes.

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Common DMAIC Mistakes

DMAIC is best used when an existing product or process fails to meet performance expectations or otherwise leaves customers unsatisfied. You can read more about what DMAIC is and about steps involved on our blog, but for those of you who are finding DMAIC challenging you may want to check your organization isn’t making these five big DMAIC mistakes.

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Topics: DMAIC

The Intersection of Culture & Technology [Webinar Preview]

Posted by Kade Jansson

Mar 13, 2017 1:34:55 PM

If the amazing insights Matthew Cannistraro shared with listeners in the KaiNexus webinar The Intersection of Culture and Technology: Capturing Improvement Where it Happens could be summed up in a few words, it would be that technology influences results.

Watch Now

Matthew Cannistraro is an Operations Analyst in the Sheet Metal Group at JC Cannistraro. He was joined by KaiNexus Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services and founder of LeanBlog.org Mark Graban, who hosted the webinar.

JC Cannistraro is a mechanical contractor who designs, fabricates and installs different systems for commercial buildings in Boston, with a specialization in hospitals and labs. It is a family business that has been transformed by technology.

“I think that that’s really important to understand, that like most organizations today, technology is a core part of all of our work flows. From design to installation, it’s a tool that everybody uses. And that is a really important part about how we use KaiNexus and how are improvement culture functions,” Cannistraro said.

Technology transformed them into a learning organization and allowed them to bring in young faces and to invite young students in co-operation programs, some of whom grew into leadership positions.

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Before they started using KaiNexus, JC Cannistraro used their own internal continuous improvement program, in which they tracked improvements with Google Sheets, but at some point this program went dead, flatlining in the number of improvements adopted over time. To combat this, they started using 5S training to make new improvements. Cannistraro stressed that the important thing 5S gave their teams a shared understanding of what they tried to improve, which in turn allowed them to see more opportunities for improvement. In fact, the result was too many opportunities to manage and soon a better solution was needed.

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Topics: Improvement Culture, Continuous Improvement Software, Webinars

Electronic Suggestion Box – Sounds Like a Good Idea … But

Posted by Kade Jansson

Feb 15, 2017 8:01:00 AM

We’re in the continuous improvement business, so it isn’t surprising that we sometimes talk to HR managers and other leaders who have been sold on the idea that an electronic suggestion box is the way to gather employee ideas for improvement. Physical suggestion boxes have been around probably as long as there have been businesses, so why not modernize the approach by making it digital?

We applaud any attempt to get front-line employees involved in improvement, but our clients have told us that electronic suggestion boxes are not an effective way to capitalize on the collective wisdom of the team. Why? Largely because they don’t go far enough in turning thought into action.

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Here’s where they break down.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems

Everything You Need to Know about Strategy Deployment  [WEBINAR]

Posted by Kade Jansson

Feb 8, 2017 7:04:00 AM

KaiNexus is pretty lucky in that it has a staff of amazingly talented and knowledgeable individuals. Our Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services, Mark Graban, is certainly no exception. Graban has over 20 years of experience practicing Lean both in manufacturing and in healthcare, is the author of several books including Lean Hospitals, and is the founder of LeanBlog.org. Recently Jeff Roussel, Vice-President of Sales for KaiNexus, hosted a webinar wherein Graban shared some of his experience and knowledge about Strategy Deployment. You can watch that full webinar, titled Everything You Need to Know About Strategy Deployment, here.

My summary and notes also appear below...

Everything You Need to Know About Strategy Deployment

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Topics: Strategy Deployment

Top Reasons to Consider a Digital 5S Tool

Posted by Kade Jansson

Jan 31, 2017 4:09:34 PM


The 5S technique is part of a broader set of management practices known as visual management or visual control. Although these tools are often used by organizations that employ Lean management or the Toyota Production System, they can be used by any organization seeking to optimize workspaces and processes. 5S can be implemented without technology to support it, but our clients have found that the digital approach can smooth the process and amplify the results.

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Topics: Lean, Kaizen