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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement

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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

How Digital Idea Boards Accelerate Innovation

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 16, 2018 4:31:20 PM

We’ve written before about the reasons that traditional suggestion boxes rarely result in lasting positive change. The biggest problem is that they are just a passive receptacle for employee ideas without any structure for ensuring that every suggestion is evaluated and many are implemented. Fortunately, there is a modern alternative that is helping companies in every industry achieve continuous daily improvement and even a few breakthrough ideas. Digital idea boards are the ideal alternative to suggestion boxes or improvement spreadsheets.

Here’s how they make innovation happen faster.

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Topics: Continuous Improvement Software, Improvement Culture, Spread Continuous Improvement, Daily Lean Management, Suggestion Systems, Innovation Software

What Changes When You Implement Kaizen Software?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 8, 2018 10:22:33 AM

One thing that we hear quite often from leaders who have attempted to create a Kaizen culture is that initial enthusiasm quickly wanes, and improvement projects move in fits and starts. In most cases, these leaders have embraced the Kaizen mindset, but haven’t implemented a software platform to support it.

On the flip side of that, our clients who have implemented an improvement platform tell us that it has helped transform their organization into one that consistently produces positive change.

Here’s what they say happens when Kaizen software is deployed.

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Topics: Kaizen, Software, Continuous Improvement Software

6 Principles of the Continuous Improvement Model

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 4, 2018 3:58:36 PM

There are a host of methodologies that businesses use to bring structure to the process of identifying and acting upon opportunities for improvement.  You may be familiar with Six Sigma, Kaizen, Lean, Toyota Production System and others.  Although these methodologies differ, the heart of each of them is the continuous improvement model. 

The continuous improvement model reflects the idea that organizations should undertake incremental improvements to services, products, and processes. It is guided by a few core principles:

 

 

Principle 1 – Improvements are based on small changes, not only on major paradigm shifts or new inventions

This concept is important, because large changes often feel frightening and destabilizing to organizations. By approaching change in small, incremental steps, the continuous improvement model reduces the fear factor and increases speed to improvement. When following this principle, the organization does not need to wait for a strategic shift or a new product release to begin to advance.

Principle 2 – Employee ideas are valuable

The continuous improvement model relies greatly on employees, not only top management, to identify opportunities for improvement. This bottom-up improvement is effective because employees are closest to the problems, and thus better equipped to solve them.

When thinking of these two principles, consider the value of engaging your staff. If you were to ask everyone in the organization for ideas to create a new product line or revolutionize the way they care for their patients, you're not going to get anything; staff are focused on their own day-to-day work. They (understandably) can't come up with monumental ideas at the drop of a hat!

Instead, ask people what improvement they could make that would save them 5 minutes a day. Then empower them to implement that improvement, and spread it to everyone else in the organization doing the same process. In this way, you can take a small idea that anyone could come up with and drive a big impact. For example, say get one idea from ten employees, each of which saves them five minutes per day. That's ten ideas. Share all ten of those improvements with one hundred other employees, so that every one of them is now saving fifty minutes per day (10 ideas x 5 minutes each).

By asking people for a small idea that shaves 5 minutes off their day and propagating their ideas around the organization, you're about to save 3.4 YEARS of manpower with the ideas of just 10 people. Imagine how much you would save if you extended the "ask" of a five minute idea to your entire organization!

Another way to encourage employees to spot opportunities and implement improvements is to ask "what bugs you?". 

Most complaints involve a delta between the current state and the employee’s idea of how things should be. Sometimes the gripe includes a specific recommendation. It might go something like, “If they would just do X, Y, and Z, the problem would be solved.” Sometimes there is no solution included. You might hear, “There’s got to be something they could do to fix this!” 

Did you notice the operative word in each of these examples? They. When employees are disempowered and disconnected from the improvement process, all they can do is wait for “They” (management) to recognize and correct problems. When that doesn’t happen it’s natural (and probably healthy) for people to express their frustration.

Leaders who adopt the continuous improvement model don’t shy away from employee complaints.

How to be an Influential Kaizen Coach

Quite the contrary, they embrace them as opportunities for improvement. If a team member notices something amiss and says something about it, that’s a good thing. That’s the beginning of the improvement cycle. Companies with a culture of improvement take it even further. They give employees a process for reporting and acting upon ideas to save money, improve processes, satisfy clients, and improve quality. What’s more, they provide systems and structure for doing so and they recognize those who contribute to making the organization better one small initiative at a time.

People are often told not to complain about something unless they are willing to do something about it. That’s only fair when there is something they can do. Good leaders give people that opportunity.

KaiNexus customers have cumulatively saved over one MILLION hours of manpower, time that can now be spent on value-adding activities. Check out this article to see what can be accomplished in one million hours for a better picture of the impact of incremental improvements.

Check out this video to learn about the "What Bugs You" program at Springhill Camps and see how leaders used this approach to engage their frontline employees in solving problems - resulting in the invention of an incredible new product.

 

 

 

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How to Have Better Team Huddles

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 25, 2018 8:12:00 AM

We recently had a chat with a potential client in a healthcare organization that has been doing daily team huddles for years. She has been frustrated by the lack of tangible results and the apparent disinterest of her team. People show up (unless they can find any reasonable excuse not to), but it is clear that the huddle is just one thing to check off the list each day, rather than a valuable exercise. She asked how to make the practice more useful and here’s what we recommended.

Set a Firm Time Limit

Daily huddle meetings are meant to be extremely focused and quick affairs. If you have the right measurements and technology in place (more on that in a minute), 15 minutes should be sufficient. That means that everyone will need to think ahead about what is important to discuss and stick to the most relevant topics for discussion. Keeping meetings quick makes them less burdensome and allows employees to schedule their day around them.

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Topics: Visual Management, Daily Lean Management, Improvement Process

How Software Enables Lean Leadership

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 19, 2018 9:45:00 AM

It’s 2018, and if you haven’t heard, there’s an app for that. We use software to manage almost every aspect of business today from HR to accounting. You’ve got systems for inventory management, sales performance, customer communications, social media monitoring, and even conference room scheduling.

That’s why we are not surprised that more and more organizations are implementing Lean software to support their critical objectives of increasing customer value and reducing waste.

Not only does Lean software make your team more productive at continuous improvement, but it also increases your strength as a Lean leader. Here’s how.

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Topics: Lean, Software, Leadership

How to Develop a Kaizen Management Style

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 6, 2018 8:21:00 AM

It is common that when people are first introduced to the concept of Kaizen, they get excited. The ability to implement small, incremental positive changes on a daily basis is universally appealing. Because respect for people is at the heart of the philosophy, employees quickly get on board as well.

However, what does it actually mean to adopt a Kaizen management style and develop a culture of daily improvement?

Here are a few practical applications of Kaizen management.

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Topics: Kaizen

9 of Our Favorite Performance Improvement Methods

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 31, 2018 11:00:00 AM

We’re in the lucky position to have the opportunity to chat with leaders who are dedicated to organizational and employee performance improvement on a regular basis. Of course, we spend much time talking about improvement management technology, but we also like to get into the day-to-day tactical techniques that help our clients achieve their goals. We’re delighted to share some of the ones they love the most.

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Topics: Improvement Methodology

How to Introduce Continuous Improvement Software to Employees

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 30, 2018 10:30:00 AM

Effective communication is the most critical element of any continuous improvement software roll out. Whether or not your employees will embrace the solution and get value from it is partly dependent on how it is introduced. Whenever a new technology is deployed, people have questions and concerns that should be addressed head-on. Here are some tips for getting your team excited about software support for positive change.

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Topics: Continuous Improvement Software

The Fundamentals of the Lean Methodology

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 29, 2018 11:00:00 AM

The Lean methodology is an evolution of the Toyota Production System that the Japanese automaker implemented following World War II to improve the efficiency and flexibility of its manufacturing. Two important books, The Machine That Changed the World (1990) by James P. Womack, Daniel Roos, and Daniel T. Jone and Lean Thinking (1996) by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones outlined the structure and principles for the Lean method.

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Topics: Lean

What to Include in Your Kaizen Event Charter

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 21, 2018 7:45:00 AM

We recently had a conversation with a client who has been through a few too many failed Kaizen events. The team was unorganized, not well supported, and unable to obtain the desired results. When we dug in a bit more to try to figure out why, we learned that although there was a Charter document created for the event, it was incomplete and insufficient to serve as a guide for the team. We’re putting this post together to help this client and anyone else who might be new to Kaizen events or struggling to find success.

There are many ways you can layout your charter. Some organizations use templates that organize all of the information onto one page often in Excel, while others just use a simple document. The form isn’t as important as the content. It is also essential that the document is stored in your improvement management system so that it can be referenced in the future. Here are the elements it should include:

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Topics: Kaizen, Improvement Process

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