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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

The Fundamentals of a Lean Deployment Plan

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 21, 2018 11:25:22 AM

If you’ve decided to set your organization on the path to Lean, that decision will likely be one of many that will bring measurable benefits in terms of profitability, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. Leaders who have taken this journey before have told us that getting started with Lean can be somewhat overwhelming. We thought it might be helpful to share, step-by-step, how some of the most successful organizations have launched their Lean programs. Hopefully, you’ll see that it isn’t as daunting as you might think.

We should note that every organization and every Lean program is different. Organizations can go all in or take an incremental approach. There’s no one “right” way to do Lean, so you’ll have to find the path that works best for your team. But whatever route you take, these elements are vital to success and should be included in your Lean deployment plan.

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Topics: Lean

Should I Use a Free Kanban Board Excel Template?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 13, 2018 3:29:50 PM

The internet is full of free templates for creating Kanban boards in Excel. That’s not surprising because the format of a Kanban board can be very simple, and Excel is attractive because most people know how to use its base features and everyone in the company probably already has access to it. Setting up a Kanban board in Excel and emailing it out to everyone is easy. That’s why we aren’t surprised that so many organizations start out on this road.

Very few, however, reach their goals with this approach. Here’s why.

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Topics: Kanban

Election 2018: The Connection between Civic Engagement and Employee Engagement

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 5, 2018 1:15:59 PM

I’m going to do something that everyone who writes a business blog knows is a dangerous idea. I’m going to talk about the 2016 American election.

(Calm down, PR team, it’s going to be OK.)

Specifically, I want to talk about the 108,600,056 people who did not vote in the 2016 election. That’s 46.9% of eligible voters choosing to sit that one out. Not only did those folks decide not to weigh in on two dramatically different presidential candidates they also didn’t have a voice in who will represent them at the local and state level, nor on any ballot measures that the voters were asked to decide.

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Topics: Employee Engagement

6 Requirements for Effective Strategy Deployment

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 29, 2018 11:09:53 AM

As the end of 2018 quickly approaches, many management teams are somewhere in the process of preparing the plan for 2019. Regardless of where you are in that process, this is a good time to reflect on whether or not your 2018 strategy came to fruition. Did your organization achieve the goals it set out for itself? Was adequate progress made toward your long-term objectives? Was progress assessed adequately and frequently enough?

If your results were disappointing, you are not alone. Effective strategy deployment is a struggle for many organizations; it's common to start the year off with excellent intentions but struggle to align the origination around the strategy. Communication, feedback, and measurement all take hard work and constant attention - which is tough with the day-to-day firefighting most businesses are faced with.

The good news is that there are some ways to integrate strategic planning and management into the daily rhythm of your organization.

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Topics: Strategy Deployment

Get More Impact from Improvement with Digital Visual Management

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 23, 2018 9:53:52 AM

The human brain processes visuals significantly faster than text. Smart leaders take advantage of our ability to process and remember visual information and leverage it to get more from all of the continuous improvement practices they oversee.

Visual management can be used to support a culture of improvement and spread success across the organization. By choosing the digital approach to visual management, 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 Digital Idea Boards Accelerate Innovation

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 16, 2018 4:31:20 PM

We’ve written before about the reasons that traditional suggestion boxes rarely result in lasting positive change. The biggest problem is that they are just a passive receptacle for employee ideas without any structure for ensuring that every suggestion is evaluated and many are implemented. Fortunately, there is a modern alternative that is helping companies in every industry achieve continuous daily improvement and even a few breakthrough ideas. Digital idea boards are the ideal alternative to suggestion boxes or improvement spreadsheets.

Here’s how they make innovation happen faster.

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Topics: Innovation Software, Suggestion Systems, Daily Lean Management, Improvement Culture, Spread Continuous Improvement, Continuous Improvement Software

What Changes When You Implement Kaizen Software?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 8, 2018 10:22:33 AM

One thing that we hear quite often from leaders who have attempted to create a Kaizen culture is that initial enthusiasm quickly wanes, and improvement projects move in fits and starts. In most cases, these leaders have embraced the Kaizen mindset, but haven’t implemented a software platform to support it.

On the flip side of that, our clients who have implemented an improvement platform tell us that it has helped transform their organization into one that consistently produces positive change.

Here’s what they say happens when Kaizen software is deployed.

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Topics: Kaizen, Software, Continuous Improvement Software

6 Principles of the Continuous Improvement Model

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 4, 2018 3:58:36 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 heart 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 is guided by a few core principles:

 

 

Principle 1 – Improvements are based on small changes, not only on major paradigm shifts or new inventions

This concept is important, because large changes often feel frightening and destabilizing to organizations. By approaching change in small, incremental steps, the continuous improvement model reduces the fear factor and increases speed to improvement. When following this principle, the organization does not need to wait for a strategic shift or a new product release to begin to advance.

Principle 2 – Employee ideas are valuable

The continuous improvement model relies greatly on employees, not only top management, to identify opportunities for improvement. This bottom-up improvement is effective because employees are closest to the problems, and thus better equipped to solve them.

When thinking of these two principles, consider the value of engaging your staff. If you were to ask everyone in the organization for ideas to create a new product line or revolutionize the way they care for their patients, you're not going to get anything; staff are focused on their own day-to-day work. They (understandably) can't come up with monumental ideas at the drop of a hat!

Instead, ask people what improvement they could make that would save them 5 minutes a day. Then empower them to implement that improvement, and spread it to everyone else in the organization doing the same process. In this way, you can take a small idea that anyone could come up with and drive a big impact. For example, say get one idea from ten employees, each of which saves them five minutes per day. That's ten ideas. Share all ten of those improvements with one hundred other employees, so that every one of them is now saving fifty minutes per day (10 ideas x 5 minutes each).

By asking people for a small idea that shaves 5 minutes off their day and propagating their ideas around the organization, you're about to save 3.4 YEARS of manpower with the ideas of just 10 people. Imagine how much you would save if you extended the "ask" of a five minute idea to your entire organization!

Another way to encourage employees to spot opportunities and implement improvements is to ask "what bugs you?". 

Most complaints involve a delta between the current state and the employee’s idea of how things should be. Sometimes the gripe includes a specific recommendation. It might go something like, “If they would just do X, Y, and Z, the problem would be solved.” Sometimes there is no solution included. You might hear, “There’s got to be something they could do to fix this!” 

Did you notice the operative word in each of these examples? They. When employees are disempowered and disconnected from the improvement process, all they can do is wait for “They” (management) to recognize and correct problems. When that doesn’t happen it’s natural (and probably healthy) for people to express their frustration.

Leaders who adopt the continuous improvement model don’t shy away from employee complaints.

How to be an Influential Kaizen Coach

Quite the contrary, they embrace them as opportunities for improvement. If a team member notices something amiss and says something about it, that’s a good thing. That’s the beginning of the improvement cycle. Companies with a culture of improvement take it even further. They give employees a process for reporting and acting upon ideas to save money, improve processes, satisfy clients, and improve quality. What’s more, they provide systems and structure for doing so and they recognize those who contribute to making the organization better one small initiative at a time.

People are often told not to complain about something unless they are willing to do something about it. That’s only fair when there is something they can do. Good leaders give people that opportunity.

KaiNexus customers have cumulatively saved over one MILLION hours of manpower, time that can now be spent on value-adding activities. Check out this article to see what can be accomplished in one million hours for a better picture of the impact of incremental improvements.

Check out this video to learn about the "What Bugs You" program at Springhill Camps and see how leaders used this approach to engage their frontline employees in solving problems - resulting in the invention of an incredible new product.

 

 

 

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How to Have Better Team Huddles

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 25, 2018 8:12:00 AM

We recently had a chat with a potential client in a healthcare organization that has been doing daily team huddles for years. She has been frustrated by the lack of tangible results and the apparent disinterest of her team. People show up (unless they can find any reasonable excuse not to), but it is clear that the huddle is just one thing to check off the list each day, rather than a valuable exercise. She asked how to make the practice more useful and here’s what we recommended.

Set a Firm Time Limit

Daily huddle meetings are meant to be extremely focused and quick affairs. If you have the right measurements and technology in place (more on that in a minute), 15 minutes should be sufficient. That means that everyone will need to think ahead about what is important to discuss and stick to the most relevant topics for discussion. Keeping meetings quick makes them less burdensome and allows employees to schedule their day around them.

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Topics: Daily Lean Management, Improvement Process, Visual Management

How Software Enables Lean Leadership

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 19, 2018 9:45:00 AM

It’s 2018, and if you haven’t heard, there’s an app for that. We use software to manage almost every aspect of business today from HR to accounting. You’ve got systems for inventory management, sales performance, customer communications, social media monitoring, and even conference room scheduling.

That’s why we are not surprised that more and more organizations are implementing Lean software to support their critical objectives of increasing customer value and reducing waste.

Not only does Lean software make your team more productive at continuous improvement, but it also increases your strength as a Lean leader. Here’s how.

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Topics: Lean, Leadership, Software

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