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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement


Maggie Millard

As the Director of Marketing, Maggie educates the continuous improvement community, KaiNexus customers, executives, managers, and staff in just about every industry you can think of about improvement principles and KaiNexus' continuous improvement software. Her desire to improve the American healthcare system combined with a love of spreading knowledge to the far reaches of the internet inspires her work with KaiNexus every day. Maggie graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2010 with a BA in History. She spends her free time hanging out with her sweet, sticky, stinky new baby and two displaced dogs in the mountains of Virginia.
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Recent Posts

Top Tips for Introducing Continuous Improvement to Employees

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 17, 2017 7:36:00 AM

Obviously, all of us here at KaiNexus are huge fans of continuous improvement. But I’m not going to lie, I find the name to be a bit of a problem. It is clear, succinct, and meaningful, so what could be the matter? Because continuous and improvement are basic English words that your employees and new hires likely understand, it can seem like there isn’t much need for detailed discussion around the topic. You can end up with a conversation that goes like this:

             Manager: “Here at ACME Corp, we practice continuous improvement.”

              Employee: “Ok. That sounds good.”

You’re just not likely to hear, “What do you mean by continuous improvement? Tell me more about that.” But there is so, so much more to tell. Here are our top tips for introducing continuous improvement to new team members or existing ones who haven’t been involved with it before.

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Topics: Spread Continuous Improvement

A Hospital's Improvement Journey, as Presented at The Carnegie Foundation Summit on Lean in Education

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 15, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Last month, our friends Tania Lyon and David Yeager presented at the Carnegie Foundation Summit on Lean in Education on their research and experience in spreading a culture of continuous improvement. Tania Lyon has been a KaiNexus customer for the last couple of years and has led her team to accomplish some astounding results in her position as Director of Organizational Process Improvement. David Yeager is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and a Faculty Research Associate at UT Austin and will be presenting his research at the KaiNexus User Conference later this year.

St. Clair Hospital is a non-profit independent 329-bed hospital in Pittsburgh, PA with about 2400 employees across multiple locations. In 2008, the Hospital began a journey to become a continuously improving organization when senior management adopted Lean (an adaptation of the Toyota Production System) as its chosen improvement philosophy and methodology.

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Topics: Continuous Improvement in Education

How to Select the Best Kaizen Software Solution

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 15, 2017 7:00:00 AM

If you are like most people, you don’t buy technology to support Kaizen every day, even though you know that you should be implementing something more strategic and robust than spreadsheets and paper boards. Most people who come to us have never faced the challenge of evaluating solutions and choosing a vendor themselves, so don’t feel alone if you are in that boat. It's not as hard as it seems at first blush!

The good news is that there are some easy ways to sort out which solutions you should seriously consider.

Here’s a primer on what to look for.

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Topics: Kaizen, Software, Continuous Improvement Software

Capture MORE Improvements with Continuous Improvement Software

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 9, 2017 7:02:00 AM

I've been writing for ages about how continuous improvement software increases the number of improvements captured in any organization. It's sheerly a numbers game - without software, you're going to be limited in how many people participate in improvement and how engaged those that are participating actually are on a daily basis. Continuous improvement software, on the other hand, scales to accommodate the unique workflows from around your organization to engage every employee in improving their own work and gives them an easy way to capture their ideas. Leaders, in turn, are better able to manage that influx of ideas, which then incentivizes increased engagement. More engagement equals more improvements. You see the cycle here, right?

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An Introduction to Kaizen Software

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 8, 2017 7:19:00 AM

The practice of Kaizen along with the Six Sigma and Lean business process methodologies has been widespread in manufacturing for decades.

More recently other sectors have realized that the practices and principles of Kaizen can accelerate improvement in almost any organization.

Like manufacturers, leaders in every industry from construction to higher education are leveraging Kaizen software to support and perfect their efforts to execute on more opportunities for improvement.

For those who are not yet familiar with Kaizen software, we’ve put together this broad introduction.


What is Kaizen Software?

Kaizen software is technology designed to help organizations complete more improvements, track the results of improvement work, and maintain a historical record of every project. Modern solutions are typically cloud-based, accessed via the Internet, and available on mobile devices. Users simply log-in and gain access to the platform.

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Important features include:

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Topics: Kaizen, Software, Continuous Improvement Software

9 Ways a Lean Management System Propels Positive Change

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 28, 2017 8:16:00 AM

I was at a neighborhood gathering the other day when I ran into an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years.  She asked me what I had been up to, so I told her a bit about my role at KaiNexus and mentioned that we have software that helps companies achieve success with business methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma.

“Oh,” she said. “I figured they just used spreadsheets and email.”

I didn’t want to hog the conversation or turn a social event into a business lecture, so I just responded that there are a lot of reasons that organizations are more successful if they use software to support improvement efforts.

I was trying to be chill then, I’m not now. You’ve come to this blog for a reason, so hopefully (unlike my friend) you are interested in the gritty details about how a Lean management system can act as a booster rocket for positive organizational change. Here are nine ways that spring to mind.

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Topics: Lean, Software, Continuous Improvement Software

8 Standard Work Blunders You Can Absolutely Avoid

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 27, 2017 7:52:00 AM

Standard work (sometimes called “standardized work”) is a term that practitioners of a continuous improvement methodology such as Lean, Kaizen or Six Sigma have probably heard before. It is simply a detailed written description of the most efficient and effective way known to complete a particular process or task, safely, with the highest quality result.

The goal is to reduce variation and improve key performance indicators (KPIs) related to delivery, quality, and cost measures. It also makes it possible to predict how long a task will take, no matter which employee does it.

The approach is straightforward, but there are a surprising number of ways to mess it up. I blame some of that on the name.

Standard work is an accurate description of what it is, but I think the name gives some people the sense that the Standard never changes and that employees should blindly follow it without comment or complaint. Nothing could be further from the truth. Standard work is the baseline or “floor” for improvement, not the ceiling. Ignoring this notion leads to a bunch of big mistakes. Here are some of the worst ones.

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Topics: Change Management, Continuous Improvement Software

Continuous Improvement Leadership at Mohawk Paper

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 26, 2017 7:52:00 AM

Though we work hard to give you as much information as we can about continuous improvement (CI) and the many related methodologies, we can’t hide – nor would we want to—that we are a CI software provider. As proponents of CI software, we have always talked about how combining the right technology, improvement methodologies, and engaged leadership styles can create a balanced culture of CI that will maximize and sustain impact over the long haul.

Recently Mark Graban, our Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services and founder of LeanBlog.org, interviewed Ben (Chip) Whitaker from Mohawk Fine Papers, a company that sees technology and software the same way that we do, and has recently launched CI software across most of its departments. Whitaker is the Director of Business Process Management and IT for Mohawk, which is North America's largest privately-owned manufacturer of fine papers, envelopes, and specialty substrates for commercial and digital printing.

Mohawk was founded in 1931 according to the company’s website, and as Whitaker explained, some of the equipment the company has is even older, dating back to more than a hundred years. But despite its history, the company has been using technology to look forward and seek success for quite some time.

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Topics: Customer Testimonials

A Preview of Next Week's Webinar: The Nexus of Lean & Zen

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 21, 2017 3:26:49 PM

Recently, Mark Graban, VP of Innovation and Improvement Services interviewed next week's webinar presenter Kevin Meyer, on the KaiNexus Continuous Improvement Podcast. Let's take a look at that interview and get psyched for the upcoming webinar!

Meyer is a co-founder and partner at Gemba Academy. He has over 30 years of manufacturing leadership experience in the automotive lighting, telecom electronics, and medical device industries. He has been responsible for lean transformations at Sylvania, Abbott Laboratories, Newport Corporation, and most recently as President of Specialty Silicone Fabricators. He guest lectures on business, manufacturing, and leadership topics at his alma mater Rensselaer as well as CalPoly. Meyer is on the board of directors of two technology companies and two regional public policy councils, and actively supports early stage entrepreneurship by investing with SLO Seed Ventures and mentoring startups at the SLO HotHouse.  

I think the story of how Meyer got introduced to Lean is fascinating. It was back around 1996 when he was working for a large medical device company and was transferred out to run a facility in Utah. In the interview, Meyer said that "when you're part of the corporate world, you don't ask questions when you get transferred, you just go." Turns out, some questioning might have been prudent; he arrived to find that this facility was running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year - and was still running 6 months behind schedule to downstream plants.

As Meyer put it, "what do you do in that situation, besides panic?"

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A Pilot and a Focus on Engagement: Continuous Improvement at Mohawk

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 13, 2017 7:51:00 AM

One of the most interesting things about working with new clients at KaiNexus is that we get to hear stories about how organizations have approached continuous improvement (CI) and ask them about their challenges, successes, and plans for the future. Recently, our Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services and founder of LeanBlog.org, Mark Graban had the opportunity to speak with Ben Whitaker, Director, Business Process Management and IT for Mohawk Fine Papers about the beginnings of his organization’s CI journey.

Mohawk is North America's largest privately owned manufacturer of fine papers, envelopes, and specialty substrates for commercial and digital printing. The company has a long history providing paper products, and products like paper, for their customers to print on. Whitaker explained that some of the equipment the company has is over a hundred years old, and according to Mohawk’s website, the company was founded in 1931.

Listen to the interview and subscribe to the podcast:

As Whitaker explained, the motivation to consider improvement methodologies came about in 2016 because of a recent expansion into the envelope business in addition to the company’s paper operations. This expansion was originally a response to industry changes that urged the company to get control over envelopes that were made from its paper.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Customer Testimonials