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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

A Brief Introduction to 5 Principles of Lean Manufacturing

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 23, 2020 12:42:22 PM

Lean Thinking, by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, covers the five principles of Lean manufacturing. “Truly remarkable .... the most comprehensive, instructive, mind-stretching and provocative analysis of any major industry I have ever known," said Philip Caldwell, former Chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Company. Peter Drucker called it, “A very important book.” Although the book is primarily focused on Toyota’s achievement in revolutionizing manufacturing, the principles of Lean manufacturing can be applied to almost any industry.

Here are 5 principles of Lean manufacturing:

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Topics: Lean

Study Finds that COVID-19 is Harming Workers' Mental Health

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 14, 2020 10:30:00 AM

If you find that you don't have the energy for activities that you once enjoyed or you are overreacting to small irritants, you are not alone.

New research by the Society for Human Resources Management finds that 22-35% of US employees suffer from signs of depression as they navigate the COVID-19 outbreak.

The study of 1,099 employees found that people who live with an at-risk individual, like healthcare workers or medically vulnerable people, were most severely affected. The survey found that 41% of respondents felt "burned out," yet one-third of respondents said they had done nothing to cope with their feelings, and only 7 percent had contacted a mental health professional.

Work-related concerns left over 40 percent of employees feeling hopeless, burned out, or exhausted as they face lives altered by COVID-19.

While some impact on mental health is inevitable during a crisis like this one, there are some things that employers can do to help.

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Topics: Leadership

Top 5 Challenges Faced by Cross Functional Teams

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 8, 2020 12:09:13 PM

Effective cross functional collaboration can be the key to tackling an organization’s toughest problems. Cross functional teams can serve as pockets of innovation, and they can improve both individual and group performance. There’s very little question about their value.

The question is, why are cross functional teams so difficult to manage and maintain? Understanding some of the challenges faced by cross functional teams is the first step in making them work.

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Topics: Collaboration

Continuous Improvement & Employee Empowerment at The Standard Group

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jun 5, 2020 8:30:00 AM

The Standard Group is a print management and marketing logistics company based in Reading, Pennsylvania. They specialize in everything from marketing management and direct mail to commercial printing, warehousing and fulfillment, and promotional products. The team at Standard Group has been using KaiNexus to spread their improvement culture since 2017, when Nick Shonsky, their Director of Continuous Improvement, learned about our software from a friend using KaiNexus at another company.

When Shonsky first learned about the eight wastes of Lean, there were two wastes that stood out to him - Defect, and Overproduction. Both of these are inherent in the printing industry, making them a perfect target for waste reduction improvements.

Our team was fortunate enough to be able to visit The Standard Group. The moment I walked onto their print shop floor, I immediately saw how the organization embodies continuous improvement. Hanging from the ceiling throughout the floor are two giant banners - one listing the eight wastes and the other depicting The Standard Group’s Continuous Improvement Pyramid of Success:


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12 Characteristics of a Lean Organization

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 29, 2020 2:36:08 PM

The renowned football coach and philosopher, Vince Lombardi, once said, “Perfection is unattainable, but if we chase perfection, we catch excellence.

That’s the mindset of a Lean organization. There’s a bedrock belief that every process, investment, employee, or action should directly translate to value for the customer with no waste. That ideal is unattainable, of course, but Lean organizations try to get close to it every day, and in doing so, reach a level of success that their competitors can only envy.  Every Lean organization is unique, but there are some core qualities that they tend to have in common.

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Topics: Lean

CI Reporting Woes? How to Measure What Matters

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 28, 2020 11:24:00 AM

Ever wonder why factories, warehouses, grocery stores, and other similar businesses usually have a sign that says something like, "Accident-Free for 82 Days." It's because the simple act of measuring and reporting that number makes it evident across all levels of the organization that this metric is important. We measure what matters. No one wants to be the guy who sets the sign back to zero.

Measuring and reporting continuous improvement metrics sends a clear signal to the organization that this is important. When people know that you're tracking data around their improvement work, there's an increased sense of accountability that drives engagement and activity.

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Topics: ROI

10 Leadership Mistakes that Undermine Improvement Efforts

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 12, 2020 8:30:00 AM

Leaders that we speak with get very excited about the idea of creating an improvement engine within their organizations. Who doesn’t want a team of players always looking to edge closer to perfection? Of course, achieving this goal is harder than it sounds.

We’ve found that leaders who struggle to create a culture that thrives on improvement make one or more of ten common mistakes. These challenges are probably not breaking news if you’ve been a leader for a long time, but it can’t hurt to check in with yourself from time to time and make sure you are avoiding these behaviors. If you are a new leader, this is an excellent “don’t” list.

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Topics: Leadership, Spread Continuous Improvement

The Principles of High Reliability Organizations are On Display During COVID-19

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 17, 2020 12:00:00 PM

Because so many of our clients and employees are current or former healthcare professionals, a lot of our attention has been on the impact of COVID-19 on our nation’s hospitals. Hospitals belong to the class of organizations called High Reliability Organizations or HROs. (Nuclear energy facilities, airlines, and certain military operations are also on that list.)

When something goes wrong at an HRO, the consequences can be disastrous. Fortunately, they succeed far more often than they fail. That’s because they practice five driving principles that inform every decision and permeate the culture.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve noticed the application of these principles outside of organizations usually considered HROs. Individuals and organizations are applying them, probably unknowingly, to deal with an extraordinary situation and uncertain times.

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How to Keep a Remote Workforce Engaged in Improvement

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 6, 2020 3:00:00 PM

Before I start this post on how to keep a workforce that has suddenly moved to a remote model due to the coronavirus engaged and motivated, I want to begin by acknowledging those workers who can't do their job from home.

Without the hospital staff, grocery store workers, pharmacists, first responders, delivery drivers, utility workers, assisted living employees, and countless others in our communities, this situation would be even worse than it is.

We see you. We thank you.

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Topics: Collaboration, Improvement Process

How Schools Are Sparking Joy in Times of Crisis

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 19, 2020 5:45:42 PM

When every day feels like this nightmare we’ve found ourselves in has gotten worse, and there’s no end in sight, it’s hard to remember to look for the bright spots. In times of crisis, though, we must remember to - in the words of Mr. Rogers - “look for the helpers.”

All over my community, and I’m sure yours, people are coming together to make sure everyone is fed, that local businesses will be able to weather this storm, and that we’ll all make it through to the other side in one piece.

Here’s an example of “the helpers” that brings me to tears every day when I see it.

In my city, enough of the students NEED free breakfast and lunch that the entire school system just gives it to everyone. When schools around the country started closing in response to COVID-19 last week, my Facebook feed was suddenly full of panicked posts from local friends worrying about how the kids in our city would be fed.

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