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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement


Mark Graban

Mark Graban is a Senior Advisor at KaiNexus. Mark graduated from Northwestern University in 1995 with a BS in Industrial Engineering and later earned an MS in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is author of two Shingo Research Award-winning books, and has worked as a consultant to healthcare organizations throughout North America and Europe, teaching and implementing kaizen and other Lean management practices. He was previously a Senior Fellow with the Lean Enterprise Institute and the Healthcare Value Network and continues as an LEI faculty member. Mark is also the founder of the popular LeanBlog.org and its podcast series.
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Recent Posts

When Standardization Leads to Inadvertent Comedy

Posted by Mark Graban

Mar 28, 2020 12:49:00 PM

This week, I played game show host when we hosted a Quiz Show webinar about Covid-19. The answers and discussion were provided by our local expert (and KaiNexus CEO) Dr. Greg Jacobson.

One thing I do for KaiNexus is managing our webinar series. Each time we present a webinar, we have a standard set of survey questions that appears at the end for our attendees.

The survey is standardized, meaning we ask the same questions each time. Standardized work is a core concept of Lean and the Toyota Production System, but standardization is always done for a purpose. In this case, we always want to learn the same things about our webinar attendees, including what they liked about the webinar. We also want to know what could have been better -- we're obsessed with continuous improvement like our customers are!

Part of that obsession is that we do improve our standards over time -- we can call that "kaizen" too.

But back to the survey, one other question that we always ask is:

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The Questions People Asked for "Ask Docs Anything About Covid-19" Webinar

Posted by Mark Graban

Mar 17, 2020 8:25:34 PM

I've been helping our KaiNexus CEO Dr. Greg Jacobson prep for the webinar he and two other doctors are participating in on Wednesday March 18:

Ask Us Anything! COVID-19

Register Now

It's been beyond fascinating to see the questions that people have submitted. I've spent a lot of time going through them and categorizing them... here is what's on people's minds. And maybe that speaks to gaps in effective communication from the government and the healthcare field.

You can register and submit your own questions here

We decided to just copy and paste the questions so you can see what people are asking. Greg and the other doctors, pediatrician Whitney Morgan and internist Mason Mileur won't be able to answer them all necessarily: 

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Podcast: How Daily Tiered Huddles Work at Cleveland Clinic

Posted by Mark Graban

Sep 16, 2019 11:20:52 AM

When a group of us from KaiNexus attended the Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit in June, one of our favorite presentations was given by Cinnamon Dixon of the Cleveland Clinic. Through her talk (and a fun exercise), she explained and illustrated how powerful the "Daily Tiered Huddles" are as a part of their approach to Lean.

We asked Cinnamon to share some of their approach and we recorded it as a podcast. You can listen or read the full transcript below. Thanks to Cinnamon and Cleveland Clinic for being so open in sharing their approach!! Scroll down to see the transcript after the embedded player...

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How To Measure the ROI of Continuous Improvement Efforts

Posted by Mark Graban

Nov 16, 2018 3:01:27 PM

You may or may not know that we host a regular webinar series, with topics ranging from employee engagement and the ROI of continuous improvement to A3 Thinking and improvement software demos.

You can see what's coming up next here.

My favorite part of the webinars is that they give us a chance to listen to the audience; to see what questions people are asking, what topics resonate with them, and what their struggles are.

For example, one of the attendees in our webinar produced in partnership with Gemba Academy called "Congratulations, You Have Lots of Employee Ideas. Now What?" asked this question: 

“We have successfully implemented a Quick and Easy Kaizen program where all our staff identify a problem, improve the problem, and submit the improvement for tracking. The problem I run into is in the submitting the problem and tracking the savings.  Is it common for employees to say how much time they save for each of their ideas?  And do organization often tie a dollar amount to the time savings? Are there pitfalls I should be aware of? (Example: Sally makes $12.00 an hour.  She improved her process by one hour a day, so the total time savings is $12.00 an hour with an annual savings of $12.00 x number of work days left in the year.)  Are there different ways to calculate the savings?”

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Topics: Employee Engagement

Webinar Preview: A Chat with Oscar Roche About TWI & Kata

Posted by Mark Graban

Aug 9, 2018 8:11:00 AM

I'm really excited to be hosting a webinar that's coming up on Tuesday, August 14th at 1 PM ET:

TWI and Kata: Skill Patterns to Develop a Culture of Coaching

with Lean Frontiers

Register Now

Oscar Roche and Jim Huntzinger of Lean Frontiers will discuss how learning and developing the skills provided by the practices of Training within Industry (TWI) and Kata behaviors will develop good coaching practices while simultaneously developing the culture and actual practice of process improvement in your organization.

You will learn:

  • The basics of TWI and Kata practices
  • How these skills directly impact an improvement culture. 
  • How the development of TWI and Kata develop coaching skills and practices. 
  • How coaching plays a key role in the developing a lean culture.


I hope you'll join our presenters: Jim Huntzinger, president and co-founder of Lean Frontiers, and Oscar Roche, director of the Training Within Industry Institute for Australia and New Zealand. Click here to register

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Oscar about the webinar, which was shared in our podcast series, with a transcript following below in this post.


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Lean Healthcare Articles Everyone Needs To Read

Posted by Mark Graban

Apr 19, 2018 7:45:00 AM

If you do a Google search for articles about Lean healthcare, you’ll get tons of options. Here are some articles that I like, written by some of the thought leaders and practitioners I respect and enjoy reading.

One article that’s a classic at this point was published in 2005 by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement:

Going Lean in Healthcare

Many organizations today still need to get this important message from the article:

“In order for lean principles to take root, leaders must first work to create an organizational culture that is receptive to lean thinking. The commitment to lean must start at the very top of the organization, and all staff should be involved in helping to redesign processes to improve flow and reduce waste.”

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April Fool! Announcing New “KaiNexus Suggestion Box” Functionality

Posted by Mark Graban

Apr 1, 2018 7:54:52 PM

It’s been amazing to see how KaiNexus functionality has evolved and expanded since I joined the company in 2011. Our platform was initial built around “kaizen” style continuous improvement models. We were pretty evangelical about that model being the best approach to improvement.

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How to Evaluate the Success of a Continuous Improvement Department

Posted by Mark Graban

Feb 22, 2018 10:23:56 AM

We love answering questions in our "Ask Us Anything" video series, but sometimes we get questions that are best answered in a blog post.

Here is a question from somebody in our KaiNexus community who works in a healthcare system:

"In our Continuous Improvement department, we are often evaluating and re-evaluating how we measure the success of what it is that we do. It honestly can be a struggle sometimes, and we want to better convey it to our senior leadership and especially how it aligns with our strategic objectives year-to-year.

Some things are easier [to measure] than others.

For instance,  Kaizen events - we can get a good idea of our success with how many of our action plans were closed out and other sustainment checks. The other things - coaching, teaching, being a mentor, project management, etc. - are much harder to gauge and really "measure."

I was curious - what are the ways you know of and have researched that are great measures of success in a continuous improvement or process improvement department?"  

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How a Lean Adoption Strategy for Public Schools Applies to Everyone

Posted by Mark Graban

Feb 13, 2018 10:48:56 AM

I’m excited to be giving a preview of a webinar that Harry Kenworthy is going to be presenting for us on February 19th. 

The title of that webinar is "How a Lean Adoption Strategy for Public Schools Applies to Everyone," I certainly hope this will be of interest to you. Harry did a webinar back in 2016, and he called it "10 Commandments for Lean in Government," but Harry’s ideas on Lean certainly apply everywhere.

How a Lean Adoption Strategy for Public Schools Applies to Everyone

February 19 from 1:00 - 2:00 ET

Presented by Harry Kenworthy

Register Now

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • Why Lean fails too often
  • Why organizational “knowledge” undermines Lean
  • When and how leadership should be engaged
  • A “Proven Path” strategy for launching a Lean initiative; how two weeks
    means all the difference for success

This blog post is an edited transcript of a podcast that we did as a preview.

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Topics: Webinars

What the KaiNexus Team Saw and Heard Visiting a Toyota Plant

Posted by Mark Graban

Feb 7, 2018 7:03:00 AM

As I wrote about last month, the entire KaiNexus team was excited to have the chance to visit and tour the Toyota truck factory in San Antonio, the plant known as TMMTX (Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas). 

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