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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

Who Should Participate in Kaizen?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 14, 2018 9:21:13 AM

One of the questions that we get asked most often by leadership teams trying to adopt the Kaizen approach to business that made Toyota so successful is who in the organization needs to be involved? It’s a good question, but one that’s relatively easy to answer by examining the principles behind the Kaizen philosophy.

Kaizen means “positive change” or “continuous improvement” in Japanese. Those who practice Kaizen believe that small changes can produce impressive results and that ideas for positive change should come from the people doing the work. When Toyota introduced Kaizen, they made it clear that continuous improvement was everyone’s job. The goal of modern organizations is to develop a culture of improvement that envelops every single member of the team.

Once you realize that everyone should participate in Kaizen, but the next question is how? Each role has a different set of responsibilities related to improvement.

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Topics: Kaizen

The Best and Worst Practices for Crowdsourcing Innovation

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 8, 2018 11:55:36 AM

We’ve written before about why internally crowdsourcing innovation is such a hot trend in business. (Actually, we don’t think it’s a trend at all. We believe it is a new way of approaching problem solving that is here to stay.)

While the benefits of the approach are compelling in terms of increased employee engagement, better products, less waste, and happier customers, success isn’t guaranteed.

There are some best practices that will amp up your results and a few behaviors that will hurt your efforts.

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Topics: Innovation Software, Improvement Process

Hottest Trend in Business? Internally Crowdsourced Innovation

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 30, 2018 2:56:49 PM

Crowdsourcing is the practice of engaging a group of substantial size for a common goal such as problem-solving, efficiency or just gathering collective knowledge. Because we are all so connected these days through the internet and social media, just about anything can be crowdsourced. Wikipedia is a great example of a valuable resource made possible because of small contributions from millions of people.

Companies have long known that external crowdsourcing is an effective tool for innovation. BMW, for example recently invited ideas for redesigning the interior of one of its latest models. Heineken has something called “The Innovators Brewhouse,” where it invites ideas from customers, suppliers, partners, and others on everything from sustainability to ingredients. (You must be 21 or older to enter.)

Externally crowdsourcing ideas is beneficial in creating connections with customers, increasing brand loyalty, and understanding where the market is going. But it isn’t the best option for problem solving and innovation that requires a deep understanding of a company or involve proprietary information. That’s why more and more organizations are turning to internal crowdsourcing.


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Topics: Innovation Software

An Example Kaizen Event Agenda

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 25, 2018 10:11:27 AM

Kaizen events are the optimal approach for solving many challenging and persistent problems within an organization. (That does not mean they are right for every situation, however.) Recently several customers have asked us for advice when putting together one of these improvement events. I figured that would be an excellent topic for this blog and will share an example five-item Kaizen event agenda.

Depending on the nature of the issue you are about to address, it might make sense to complete one agenda item each day and plan for a 5-day event. Or, if you're confident that success can be achieved in short order, a three-day event may be long enough. Of course, every organization and opportunity for improvement is different, so you may find some adjustments are necessary, but this will give you an excellent place to start.

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Topics: Kaizen

Pro Tips for a Successful Kaizen Event

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 17, 2018 12:17:45 PM

Kaizen events are an excellent way to take quick action to tackle a difficult or long-standing problem. When used along with daily incremental improvement, they can lead to positive changes with measurable impact. However, the devil is in the details, and poor execution can lead to confusion and poor decision making, potentially making matters worse than they were in the beginning.

We’ve had the chance to chat with lots of folks who’ve run Kaizen events - some with great success, others with a list of lessons learned. Here are their best tips for a Kaizen event that gets results.

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Best Practices for Standard Work Documentation

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 5, 2018 8:11:00 AM

In his book, Standardized Work with TWI: Eliminating Human Errors in Production and Service Processes, Bartosz Misiurek writes, “Standard work is a process where you describe the best way of performing a given operation, improve this way, and train operators on it. As simple as it is to summarize, it is not as easy as it seems to execute.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why even though most leaders agree that process standardization is essential for producing quality, predictable results, when you pull back the covers, many organizations do not have standard work documented at all or have poor processes in place for keeping it accurate and up to date. That’s a shame because, without a solid foundation upon which to build and measure, improvement is elusive. We work with companies every day that have been through the process of implementing and socializing standard work. This post contains the best advice for standard work documentation that provides substantial value.

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Topics: Daily Lean Management, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

Idea Management Software’s Place in a Modern Business Culture

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jun 28, 2018 7:56:00 AM

We’ve written quite a bit in this blog about how to build a culture of continuous improvement within an organization. When seeking to do so, it is essential to recognize that each company exists within the broader context of how people live and work today.

What workers want from their employers, especially younger workers, is different than what people looked for and expected twenty years ago. It might not be immediately apparent how technology like idea management software can help bring employees and leadership teams closer together and fulfill the most essential needs of both, but we think it’s worth exploring.

Here are a few reasons that we believe idea management software is right at home in the modern workplace.

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How to Quantifiably Evaluate the Health of Your Improvement Culture

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jun 18, 2018 11:51:42 AM

Any leader of continuous improvement knows that it's difficult to prove the effectiveness of the work you're doing. A lot of the benefit of your work is soft and indirect, and it's a struggle to really know how you're performing. However, I would assert that one can determine the health of an improvement culture - and subsequently the success (or not) of efforts to spread such a culture - quantifiably by looking at metrics around three key categories: activity, engagement, and impact.

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Explaining Kaizen Software to Aunt Martha at the Family Reunion

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jun 13, 2018 7:44:00 AM

When I get the chance to interview someone who would like to join the KaiNexus team, I really only have one important question. I can safely assume that someone else has reviewed the candidate’s qualifications and vetted that they have the skills required for the position in question. What I really want to know is whether the applicant understands the nature of our business and what we offer to our customers. With that in mind, my question is this,

“If you are selected for this role, and you go to your family reunion this summer, your aunt “Martha” will undoubtedly ask you about your new job. How will you describe what our company does?”

It’s a tricky question, but not a trick one. There is no one perfect way to describe our Kaizen software solution, but there are some things I’m looking to hear. Aunt Martha’s probably never heard of Kaizen, and she’s even less likely to know that there are technology solutions designed to support it, so where does one begin?

Here are the fundamental Ideas I’d hope someone would mention when describing our business.

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Topics: Kaizen, Software, Continuous Improvement Software

10 Ways to Build a Culture that Supports CQI

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 30, 2018 9:42:19 AM

The dictionary defines corporate culture as, “The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” Every organization has a culture whether or not leaders think about it or try to shape it. But smart executives know that culture is a crucial (if not the most important) ingredient for success. Leaders who are dedicated to the practice of continuous quality improvement (CQI) should understand the role that culture plays and actively work to shape it. Here are ten best practices for creating a culture in which CQI can thrive.

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Topics: Quality, Improvement Culture, Improvement Process

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