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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

What if There Was a Red Carpet for Positive Change?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jan 21, 2020 11:02:21 AM

It’s that time of year when all of the celebrities get dressed to the nines and viewers at home sit back and root for the movies, shows, and stars they love best. Hollywood enjoys its season of recognizing the outstanding work of the past year and acknowledging the contributions of people who aren’t always in front of the camera.

That got us thinking. If Hollywood can congratulate itself, why can’t there be a pause to show appreciation for everyone in our organizations who helped to make 2019 a little bit better? If there were a red carpet for positive change, what awards should be presented?

Here’s what we came up with.

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Employee Engagement Ideas to Try in the New Year

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jan 16, 2020 8:00:00 AM

It’s hard to believe that 2020 is upon us already. The turn of the year is a time when business leaders and managers tend to reflect on the past twelve months and think about what could be even better in the months to come. It’s normal to focus on the financial metrics and goals, but the level of employee engagement should not be overlooked as you start to map out 2020.

Why?

According to one study, in the U.S, disengaged employees cost organizations around $450-550 billion each year. That costly disengagement is widespread. According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the Global Workplace, only 15 percent of employees are engaged in the workplace. Yep. 85% of workers are doing only what it takes to get through work each day. On the other hand, that same study showed that organizations with highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable.

The good news is that improving employee engagement isn’t impossible or even expensive. There are simple things you can do to shift your culture toward a more emotionally invested workforce. Here are some things to consider trying in 2020.

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Topics: Employee Engagement

Leadership Techniques for Overcoming Resistance to Change

Posted by Maggie Millard

Dec 26, 2019 11:12:00 AM

People like to joke that the only things that never change are death and taxes, but that's just not true. If it were, you would never hear things like, "That's just the way we've always done it," and, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Not changing, even if the current situation is rife with workarounds and rework, is more comfortable and less risky than trying something new, so it's no wonder that people push back when leaders try to shake things up.

But if you're reading this blog, you likely know that change is a vital business imperative. Overcoming your team's natural resistance to change isn't impossible, but it takes intention and effort. Here are some of the techniques that our customers have found work well.

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Topics: Leadership, Improvement Culture, Improvement Process

The Art of Asking Good Coaching Questions

Posted by Maggie Millard

Dec 4, 2019 7:09:00 AM

Today we are bringing you another recap of a presentation from the 2019 KaiNexicon event. We were delighted to draw together leaders and change agents from a wide variety of organizations to pool our collective wisdom and get better at getting better.

We were thrilled that Jamie V. Parker agreed to participate. Jamie is on a mission to make the world of work more human. She's a trainer, speaker, and mentor with over 17 hears of multi-unit operations management in manufacturing, retail, and service environments.

We received so much great feedback about her presentation that we wanted to do a recap for anyone who missed it. Of course, you can watch the video here, if you prefer.

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Topics: Leadership

Why is Kaizen Such a Popular Name for Sushi Restaurants?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 29, 2019 7:15:00 AM

The Sacramento area is home to a small chain of sushi restaurants called Mikuni. The downtown location is a favorite of politicians and lobbyists. When they opened up the newest location in Roseville, they gave it a new name, "Mikuni Kaizen." They explained, "The Japanese word "kaizen," which translates to "continuous improvement," truly reflects the concept behind this Mikuni location. While the menu features a host of exquisite sushi rolls made popular at the restaurant's other locations, it is also highlighted by an extensive selection of small plates and tapas-style dishes- each more exciting and compelling than the next."

Of course, seeing this on a recent visit piqued my interest. It isn't common to find continuous improvement related terms out in the wild, so it stuck with me. It turns out that the idea of applying the principles of kaizen to sushi (or vice versa) is not as novel as I thought. A quick Google search revealed that there are lots of sushi restaurants with kaizen in the name.

In addition to Roseville's Mikuni Kaizen, you could enjoy:

  • Kaizen Campbell in Campbell, CA
  • Kaizen Sushi Bar & Grill in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Kaizen Sushi in San Francisco, CA
  • Kaizen Tavern in Alexandria, VA

And those are just the ones that made the first page of Google.

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Topics: Kaizen

Did Microsoft Hack Employee Productivity with a 4 Day Work Week?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 25, 2019 8:00:00 AM

By now, you’ve probably heard of Microsoft’s experiment with a four day work week in Japan. The trial program, which saw offices closed every Friday during August, was part of Microsoft’s “Work-Life Choice Challenge,” a summer project set up to look at work-life balance and help find ways to boost creativity and productivity.

The results were pretty amazing. Productivity increased by 39.9% versus the same period in 2018. Not only was productivity improved, but also the number of printed pages in the office dropped by 59%, and electricity consumption was down 23%.

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Topics: Leadership, Employee Engagement

Celebrating Mary Greeley Medical Center

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 22, 2019 2:18:09 PM

I'm taking a break from our regular stream of improvement methodology and software blog posts to celebrate the success of one of our oldest and best customers - Mary Greeley Medical Center!

A 220-bed acute care facility in Ames, Iowa, Mary Greeley is one of only six healthcare organizations to receive the 2019 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Their CEO, Brian Dieter, is quoted in this press release saying:

“Everyone at Mary Greeley played an important part in this achievement,” said Dieter. “Every employee contributes to the experience patients and families have when they walk through our doors, whether they are at the bedside caring for patients or supporting those who do.”

This year, Mary Greeley also earned Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence. They are one of just twelve hospitals in the nation to have achieved both of these recognitions.

The press release goes on to describe factors contributing to their Baldrige success:

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4 Big Improvement Ideas to Set the Stage for Success in 2020

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 7, 2019 9:13:47 AM

It seems like every year goes by faster than the last. I keep making plans to work on my summer tan, and suddenly, it's November. The holidays will be upon us before we know it and then – boom! We're in a brand-new decade.

Before things get too crazy, this is an excellent time to think about how you can set your team up for outstanding results in 2020. It won't surprise you to hear us say it, but making just some small adjustments in your leadership approach can have an enormous impact. Here are four improvement ideas to consider in the new year.

Take Strategic Planning to the Next Level

Most organizations go through some sort of strategic planning exercise for each new year, but few can execute the strategy successfully. That's because the strategy is planned but not fully deployed. It doesn't become part of daily conversations or activities. Perhaps the revenue targets are well understood and receive frequent attention, but what about everything else.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Improvement Culture, Improvement Process

Should Lean Tools Be Used for Every Improvement?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 14, 2019 10:11:31 AM


When I first saw this tweet from our resident Lean and Six Sigma expert and author, Mark Graban, I thought that he made an excellent point. Sometimes we get caught up in all of the sophisticated improvement tools at our disposal like value stream maps, Kaizen events, A3s, heck, even continuous improvement software that we fail to make or adequately recognize small improvements that don’t require tools.

But when I reread it, I was struck by the line, “This small improvement didn’t require a belt, root cause analysis, or a project champion.” Nope. Recognizing that the speakers were not in the ideal location and finding a way to solve that problem didn’t require any fancy techniques at all.

But what did it require? There are some prerequisites that are necessary to make even a simple improvement like this one possible.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Culture

10 Leadership Behaviors that Promote Operational Excellence

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 25, 2019 10:42:50 AM

Operational excellence happens when an organization consistently and reliably outperforms the competition through constant improvement and a dedication to customer value. When two companies have the same strategy, the operationally excellent company will have higher revenues, lower cost, and less risk. This type of execution is only possible with a combination of outstanding leadership and a culture that supports problem-solving and transparency.

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Topics: Leadership, Operational Excellence

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