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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

11 Rapid Continuous Improvement Tools and Techniques Explained

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 12, 2017 4:37:49 PM

Leaders who want to develop a culture of rapid continuous improvement have many tools at their disposal. So many, in fact, that it can be difficult to keep them all in mind when deciding how to execute an opportunity for improvement or to address a difficult challenge. Or course, most organizations don’t use all of them at any one time, but each can be remarkably effective when applied to the right situation.

We thought it might be helpful to list some of the more common and useful ones all in one place. Keep on reading for links to more detailed information about each, so that you can dive more deeply into the ones that seem to fit your needs. 

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Topics: Spread Continuous Improvement

6 Pressing Questions Your Employees Have About Continuous Improvement

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 13, 2017 7:35:00 AM

We’ve written quite a bit on this blog about the questions that business leaders and managers ask us about continuous improvement (CI), Lean management, improvement technology, and more.

Today, we thought it would be useful to focus on the questions that your employees almost certainly have, especially if a structured approach to improvement is new for your company. Front line employees are often reluctant to ask questions of management, but you can bet they ask each other.

In order to make sure that folks have accurate and helpful information, it pays to answer these questions - even if they are never openly asked.

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Topics: Change Management, Employee Engagement, Spread Continuous Improvement

Gemba Walk Essentials: What, Why, and How

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 11, 2017 9:34:34 AM

If you are thinking about adding the practice of Gemba Walks to your continuous improvement strategy, or if you are simply wondering, “What the heck is a Gemba Walk?” there is a ton of information available on the subject.

In fact, we’ve written a post or two about it ourselves.

But our goal is to make this post an excellent place to start. When you are finished reading it you should know a lot more about what Gemba Walks are, why you should consider making them part of your routine, and how to go about doing it.

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Topics: Gemba Walk

Why We Care So Much About Continuous Process Improvement

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 24, 2017 11:18:18 AM

If you’ve visited this blog with any frequency, you may have noticed that we are very passionate about the work we do. Don’t get me wrong, it is work and we're in business to sell software, but way beyond that, we really believe in the work that our solution supports. Recently, a friend noticed that I was sharing articles about continuous process improvement on my personal Twitter feed and LinkedIn pages and she asked me why I was so into this stuff. That’s a good question so, Carol, this blog’s for you.

Every member of the KaiNexus team believes in the power of incremental improvement because:

It Starts from a Place of Optimism

The very fundamental premise of continuous process improvement is, “It can be better.”  That’s a pretty positive outlook from our point of view. Sure, problems will crop up and it often takes a lot of effort to replace the old way of doing things with something new, but if you believe in the power of positive change there isn’t much you can’t overcome.

Listen to this Post and Subscribe to the Podcast:


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Topics: Daily Improvement, Improvement Culture

Insights into Tech and Healthcare from Last Night at General Assembly Austin

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 16, 2017 1:37:47 PM

Last night, our CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Greg Jacobson was invited to host a panel at the General Assembly Tech and Healthcare event in Austin Texas. This event hosted “thought-leaders in health care to explore new intersections between their field and technology. Together, we discuss how they’ve been impacted by the rise of tech, ways they’ve adapted and innovated along the way, and what they expect to see in the future.”

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Ideas for Spreading Improvement from Our Lady of the Lake Hospital

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 31, 2017 10:46:48 AM

Here at KaiNexus, we often get a peek into some of the truly remarkable improvement initiatives and work that organizations undertake to create positive change for their customers and employees. Recently, KaiNexus Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services, Mark Graban, spoke with Lindsey Booty and LeaAnne Teague from Our Lady of the Lake hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Both Booty and Teague work in the Lean Management Office of Our Lady of the Lake, which is an 800-bed teaching hospital that began using Lean and CAP [Change Acceleration Process] methodology about three years ago.

Listen to the Interview
and Subscribe to the Podcast:

“CAP is change acceleration, we learned it from our GE counterparts when they were here with us in a consulting role, and it helps to ensure that you have the “people” portion of improvement considered. It goes through creating a shared need with your peers and with your team members, making sure that they’re properly bought into the change, ensuring that systems and structures around the organization are set up to make sure that the changes are sustained throughout improvement. It really helps us to get aligned with the “people” side of improvement that’s often left out when you just look at quality solutions,” Booty said.

“Three years ago was around the time that people really began to talk about highly reliable organizations, and to be highly reliable you needed this very robust process improvement platform,” Teague said. “Our leadership really looked at that, took the challenge, and said it’s through Lean methodology and it’s through change acceleration that we want to begin to make our mark.”

A big part of Our Lady of the Lake’s improvement efforts centered around Lean boot camps they hold bi-annually. However, in 2017 a new electronic medical records (EMR) system was installed at Our Lady of the Lake, which represented separate improvement work that needed to be completed.

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Enhancing the Power of Idea Boards with Improvement Software

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 28, 2017 11:54:30 AM

Idea boards have been used for quite some time now as a way to engage staff in continuous improvement. They're an excellent improvement on a suggestion box system, since the boxes have (on average) just a 2% implementation rate. Idea boards are used in companies around the world in every industry, with varying levels of results.

In this post, we'll look at the value idea boards bring to the table, and how to improve upon them with the use of new technology.

What are some benefits of idea boards?

  1. Inspiring Engagement

    When you have a board filled with opportunities for improvement submitted by your front line staff, the result organizations want is increased engagement in the improvement culture and enthusiasm for getting involved. Seeing those ideas - and the effort going into implementing them - inspires people to come with their own ideas, and it makes improvement part of the daily conversation.

  2. Sharing Ideas

    Humans are wired to improve. We want to do things to improve the goods and services we provide to our customers and patients, and we want to make our own jobs better, safer, and more efficient. Idea boards extend the usefulness of each improvement we make by sharing them with other people in our work area. Say, for example, that you determine it would be more efficient to store supplies in a new location. Rather than just moving them in your own work space, you can share the idea on an idea board and thus bring it to the attention of everyone else in the area. In this way, your own incremental improvement has a much larger impact on the organization.
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Strength in Numbers: Improving from the Bottom-Up [Webinar Preview]

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 26, 2017 11:18:51 AM

I was so excited to do this podcast interview with Mark Graban about tomorrow's webinar, I just had to share it with you all here on the blog, too.

On this episode of the KaiNexus Podcast, Mark Graban, founder of LeanBlog.org and the VP of Innovation and Improvement Services here at KaiNexus, gave us a preview of tomorrow's webinar titled Strength in Numbers: Improving from the bottom up.

Strength in Numbers: 
Improving from the Bottom-Up

July 27 from 1:00 - 2:00 ET

Register Now

In this webinar, you'll learn:

  • Where your best ideas for improvement come from
  • Why bottom-up improvement is a critical component of an improvement culture
  • The ROI of engaging everyone in improvement
  • How to engage more staff in improvement
  • How to keep up with all of those new ideas


Listen to the Interview and Subscribe to the Podcast:


If you've been keeping up with KaiNexus, you know that this is a topic near and dear to our hearts. Our continuous improvement platform was originally created to facilitate bottom-up improvement, spreading into top-down improvement and strategy deployment over the years to support more comprehensive improvement cultures.

Bottom-up improvement refers to ideas from front line staff about how they can improve their work. These improvements save money and generate revenue, save time, improve customer and patient satisfaction and safety, and make the company a better, safer place to work.

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From the Model A to the Model 3: The Opportunity Cost of Failing to Improve

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 19, 2017 9:41:14 AM

The definition of opportunity cost is "a benefit that a person could have received, but gave up, to take another course of action. Stated differently, an opportunity cost represents an alternative given up when a decision is made. This cost is, therefore, most relevant for two mutually exclusive events."

Think about this in the context of opting to implement continuous improvement software. That decision is pretty clear-cut; either you implement the software, or you don't.

While people understand the concept of opportunity cost when it comes to, say, investing, applying that concept to improvement seems to be a bit more elusive.

In this post, I'd like to take a look at the opportunity cost of NOT implementing improvement software.

Typically, when we're trying to get an organization to calculate the cost of each idea they fail to capture and implement, they get stumped right off the bat because they don't know the value of their ideas and have no way to measure the numbers that are getting lost along the way.

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How Lean Coaching is Different for Bottom-Up Improvement

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 12, 2017 2:35:15 PM

A sustainable culture of continuous improvement needs five things: bottom-up improvement, top-down improvement, strategy deployment, coaching, and visual management. Every organization claiming to be Lean incorporates some of these 5 elements, but only the best incorporate them all.

Part of the trouble companies have is that they find themselves focusing too much on top-down initiatives such as Rapid Improvement Events, Kaizen Events, and Lean projects. Yes, these approaches are all valuable - but they’re not the end all, be all of an improvement culture. Bottom-up improvement is necessary in order to make incremental, impactful improvement by engaging every person in the organization in solving the most pressing business concerns.

There are some major differences that must be accounted for when coaching bottom-up improvement as compared to top-down. In this post, we’ll take a look at what some of those differences are - and why increasing bottom-up improvement is worth making a change to your coaching style.

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