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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

The Development & Use of the PDSA Cycle of Improvement

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jan 20, 2022 10:52:24 AM

The PDSA cycle is a popular approach to process improvement because of its simultaneous simplicity and effectiveness. Although it started in manufacturing, the PDSA model for improvement can be applied to any process, making it applicable across almost every industry. Today, PDSA is prevalent in healthcare, hospitality, education, construction, and professional services.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Lean

A Quick Guide to the Basic Ideas of Lean Manufacturing

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jan 17, 2022 10:25:38 PM

Lean manufacturing is a process improvement methodology that started in the Japanese automotive manufacturing sector after World War II. Lean thinking aims to improve quality, speed production, and reduce costs by eliminating waste with continuous improvement driven by employees. Although the ideas were initially deployed in factories, the fundamental concepts apply to businesses of every sort. Today, Lean methods are used in hospitals, universities, construction, software development, and many other organizations.

A similar, data-driven approach to business is Six Sigma. It improves efficiencies and quality assurance based on reducing defects through process control and measurement. When the two methods are used together, the approach is called Lean Six Sigma. In any case, the bottom line is that many organizations benefit from a structured approach to continuous improvement. Many techniques, tools, and technologies support the journey to achieving an organization's short and long-term strategic goals.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

What is Policy Deployment and How To Reach True North

Posted by Maggie Millard

Dec 29, 2021 12:49:27 PM

Policy deployment, known in Lean circles as Hoshin Kanri or Strategy Deployment, is a technique for ensuring that an organization's strategic goals and objectives drive activities at every level. The goal is to provide consistent direction and clear communications so that every employee pulls in the same direction (toward "True North") simultaneously. The strategic planning process aims to ensure that the corporate objectives (Strategy), management plans (Tactics), and the tasks accomplished by all employees (Operations) are in sync with each other.

There are four phases of strategy deployment.

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Topics: Hoshin Kanri, Strategy Deployment

Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Management: Which Style is Best?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Dec 27, 2021 3:01:06 PM

John Shook, president of the Lean Enterprise Institute, is among those who describe Lean or the Toyota Production System as being neither top-down management nor bottom-up management. It's not about the boss telling people what to do, and it's not a system where employees are empowered to do whatever they want. Instead, an effective culture and management system has top-down AND bottom-up communication, decisions, and improvement elements. Ideally, leaders will communicate the big picture and the "why" of improvement, while those lower in the organization tend to figure out "what" and "how" to improve.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Leadership, Spread Continuous Improvement

Six Core Principles of the Continuous Improvement Model

Posted by Maggie Millard

Dec 21, 2021 1:14:10 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 foundation 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 applies to every industry and size of business. Six central principles guide it:

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Topics: Improvement Culture, Spread Continuous Improvement

8 Proactive Ways to Improve Team Culture and Engagement

Posted by Maggie Millard

Dec 13, 2021 1:43:51 PM

While it is a little dated, The Deloitte University Press Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report has probably the most useful definition of culture and engagement that we’ve seen. The report notes that “Culture describes the way things work around here, while engagement describes how people feel about the way things work around here.”

That simple statement explains why a Denison Consulting study found that organizations with thriving cultures have a 72% higher engagement rate than those without.

What’s shocking, given that 85% of the 7,000 plus executives Deloitte surveyed ranked engagement as a top priority, is that fewer than one in three executives reported that they understand their organization's culture.

If you want to move the lever on engagement, you must address culture, but how?

Here are eight things that leaders can do to start changing “the way things work around here.”

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Topics: Improvement Culture, Operational Excellence

Value Stream Mapping Best Practices

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 27, 2021 11:45:56 AM

Value stream mapping (VSM) is used to visually depict, analyze, and improve the flow of materials and information through end-to-end processes. It is an effective method of identifying waste and opportunities for error. It is used by companies who have adopted the Lean Manufacturing or Lean Sigma business methodologies, as well as by others who are practicing continuous improvement. The visualization of value stream maps often makes bottlenecks, unnecessary activities, and information flow problems more readily apparent, making it easier for stakeholders to agree on opportunities for improvement. The best practice is to approach the initiative in the following phases.


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Topics: Change Management

Critical Considerations During the DMAIC Measure Phase

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 26, 2021 10:16:00 AM

Organizations turn to the Six Sigma business methodology to reduce variation, eliminate defects, and make operations more efficient and effective. One of the cornerstones of Six Sigma is the DMAIC process improvement cycle. DMAIC stands for define, measure, analyze, improve, and control.

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Topics: Six Sigma, Improvement Methodology, DMAIC

9 Brilliantly Simple Continuous Quality Improvement Techniques

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 29, 2021 12:46:18 PM

I often find myself falling into the common trap of believing that if something is worthwhile, it is necessarily difficult. I think we all expect that valuable things are hard. The truth is, however, that sometimes the most effective and impactful things we can do are really quite simple.

When it comes to continuous quality improvement, this is absolutely the case.

Here are 9 examples of quality improvement tools, techniques, and technology that are uncomplicated yet extremely valuable.

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Topics: Quality, Spread Continuous Improvement

How Idea Management Software Turns Inspiration into Innovation

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 27, 2021 12:14:17 PM

Businesses are increasingly turning to idea management software to capture, manage, measure, and reward employee recommendations for positive change. The innovation software is being used with business management systems like Six Sigma and Lean or as a stand-alone approach to achieving operational excellence.

Modern workers want more than just a paycheck and benefits from their employers today. When employees are surveyed, the reasons that they change jobs are more often related to how they perceive themselves as being valued by their employer and how well their current work is preparing them for their future career goals.

Solutions that invite every individual to contribute toward positive change help address the need to contribute to the mission and attain recognition for excellent work. Employees who participate in innovation projects develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills to make them more effective in their current role and prepare them for the next.

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Topics: Innovation Software, Suggestion Systems, Software

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