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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

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

8 Valuable Lean and Six Sigma Tools To Try

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 25, 2018 10:45:00 AM

Six Sigma is a business management methodology that leverages a scientific approach to quality measurement with the aim of reducing variation and defects. The method was pioneered by Motorola and Allied Signal and then made famous by GE who boasted $10 billion in savings during the first years of implementation.

Lean is another methodology, philosophy, tool set, and management system that also uses a scientific problem solving approach, and more. "Lean" is a generic term that was given to the Toyota Production System, or TPS. The two pillars of TPS are usually described as "just in time flow" and "quality at the source."

Lean and Six Sigma are often used together by organizations in multiple industries, bringing methods and mindsets from each approach.

Many frameworks exist for implementing the methodologies. Many of those tools can be useful to organizations whether or not they fully embrace the Lean or Six Sigma approaches. Here are a few that our customers have found most valuable.

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Topics: Six Sigma, Improvement Methodology

Why You Need to At Least Consider a Digital Kanban Board

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 22, 2018 1:35:26 PM

The Kanban technique started in the late 1940’s as Toyota looked to rethink its approach to manufacturing. The object was to reduce waste, improve efficiency and enable what’s come to be known as just-in-time manufacturing. Toyota’s workers displayed colorful Kanban cards to communicate to downstream workers that there was a demand for parts. (Kanban means “visual signal” or “shopkeepers card” in Japanese.) This visual management approach helped teams communicate instantly about what needed to be done and when.

Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that the Kanban approach has evolved to be useful for information workers and others in a variety of industries. The most common application is a physical board that shows work that is in the queue, in-progress, and completed. A physical Kanban board works great for small, centrally located teams with a limited number of projects in play at any one time. However, more complex groups which are distributed and organizations that want a centralized view of all improvement work have turned to digital Kanban boards instead. Here are a few benefits of the approach.

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Topics: Kanban, Improvement Process

3 Questions to Ask Your Staff to Increase Engagement in Kaizen

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 11, 2018 10:42:03 AM

We know that 80% of the improvement potential in any organization lies in the frontline staff. After all, the people who actually perform the work of the business day in and day out are the ones best able to identify failings in the processes and opportunities to improve. Managers and senior leaders can come up with improvements that align with the organization's mission and goals, sure, but they don't know the nitty-gritty details of the daily work like their employees do. That's why it's so crucial to get every person at every level of the organization involved in improvement.

In fact, the most successful kaizen cultures go so far as to require their employees to participate in kaizen.

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Are You Making One of These Idea Board Mistakes?

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 3, 2018 7:42:00 AM

Idea boards are a common and useful tool for collecting ideas for improvement and displaying the status of projects. The instinct is spot on. This type of visualization creates clear communication, inspires action and creativity, and helps emphasize the importance of employee engagement.

However, we often hear from leaders who have had bad experiences and achieved no significant results with idea boards.

What are they doing wrong?

If they are using a physical idea board, like the ones we see so often arranged in the “To-Do, Doing, Done” format they likely suffer from one or more of the following common mistakes.

Do you?

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Topics: Visual Management

Is it Time to Rethink Your Daily Huddle Board?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 23, 2018 10:15:46 AM

Daily huddle meetings accompanied by the visual management tool of a huddle board are a favorite improvement management technique in several business methodologies including Lean and Agile management. Industries of all types use them to help teams stay on the same page and ensure that forward momentum on improvement projects is maintained.

However, as with many other business practices, sometimes an idea comes from a good place, but over time, in practice, it no longer achieves its purpose as well as it could.

We find that situation quite a bit when it comes to huddle boards. Teams get in the habit of the daily meeting, but after a while, it becomes a thing to check off the list every day, rather than a useful, efficient approach to improvement.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your huddle meeting and boards that will help you determine if you are on the right track or need a course correction.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Daily Lean Management, Visual Management

Big Mistakes Made by Healthcare Organizations Implementing Lean

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 4, 2018 12:34:01 PM

The Lean approach to business management has its roots in manufacturing, but today it is widely used in hospitals and other healthcare organizations. The ideas of waste reduction and process controls are attractive, but some leaders implementing Lean healthcare run into some pretty serious challenges.

Here are a few of the most common mistakes.

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Topics: Lean Healthcare

How Digital Visual Management Spreads Improvement

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 26, 2018 10:05:42 AM

The human brain processes visual information significantly faster than text. Visuals are also more powerful than what we hear. When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. If you think about how you move through the world, you won’t be surprised that 90% of all the information that goes to your brain is visual and 93% of all human communication is visual.

Organizations dedicated to continuous improvement can take advantage of this reality and use visual management to engage staff, provide insight into key information, and help ensure that improvement projects are moving forward as planned. Visual management can be used to support a culture of positive change and spread success across the organization. With today’s technology, it is possible to introduce an improvement management system that makes visualization easy and accessible for every employee.

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Topics: Visual Management

How to Share Standard Work

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 19, 2018 11:22:06 AM

Standard Work is one of the bedrock elements of continuous improvement. In fact, Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System, once said, “Without Standard Work, there is no Kaizen [positive change].”

Unfortunately, we’ve seen many organizations create a Standard Work document, check the box, and move on to business as usual.

This does little to stabilize processes or prepare for the next improvement. In order for Standard Work to be effective, it must be widely shared and actively managed.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Culture, Continuous Improvement Software, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

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