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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement

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Matt Banna

As a new Austin resident, Matt loves the close-knit structure of the KaiNexus team. With a background in professional sports, he's all about spreading continuous improvement and trying to get a little better every day. Matt graduated from Augustana College in Illinois in 2015 and when he's not at work, you can probably find him eating TexMex or BBQ and trying to find the best place to watch his hometown Chicago Cubs or Bears.
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Recent Posts

The Carnegie Foundation on Continuous Improvement in Education

Posted by Matt Banna

Mar 14, 2017 8:03:00 AM

Continuous Improvement in Education has been rapidly growing over the past couple years. Jake Sussman recently talked about continuous improvement in higher education at KaiNexus, but one group that deserves mention is the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered by Congress in 1906, the Carnegie Foundation is an independent policy and research center that focuses on every level of education. The Carnegie Foundation is committed to developing a network of ideas, individuals, and institutions to advance teaching and learning.

These stated missions and goals also mean that the Carnegie Foundation is at the forefront of Continuous Improvement in Education; they even hold an annual conference on Improvement in Education. This year’s conference is taking place this year in San Francisco, March 27th-29th.

The Carnegie Foundation published an incredibly insightful and informative white paper simply titled “Continuous Improvement in Education,” (2013) by Sandra Park, Stephanie Hironaka, Penny Carver, and Lee Nordstrum. I highly recommend putting it near the top of your reading list. Check out the entire thing here.

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The white paper delves into continuous improvement as a practice, three levels of education in which continuous improvement is currently being implemented, as well as numerous themes found in different types of educational organizations that have implemented continuous improvement.

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Topics: Continuous Improvement in Education

The Need for Lean in the Construction Industry

Posted by Matt Banna

Mar 7, 2017 8:24:00 AM

One of the most amazing things about Lean manufacturing principles is how universal they are. Lean - a management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (a method for the elimination of waste within a manufacturing system) is equally effective when applied to manufacturing, healthcare, government, or even construction, among others.

Of course, the application of Lean is at various stages in different fields. While Lean, having been created in the automotive industry, has long been applied in manufacturing, it is a relatively new concept in the construction industry.

Those who have been working in and around construction for quite some time will know the construction industry has suffered deeply from a lack of innovation and systems improvement for as long as most can remember.  

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A 2013 research article from the
Alexandra Engineering Journal, Applying lean thinking in construction and performance improvement, found the construction industry is troubled with delay and often suffers cost and time overrun. The report states that the productivity of the construction industry worldwide has been declining over the past 40 years.

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Topics: Lean

Presenting at the Lean Construction Institute - Austin

Posted by Matt Banna

Mar 2, 2017 7:46:00 AM


The best part about being involved in a Lean Community is the
community - and we’ve been thrilled to discover a thriving Lean community here in our own backyard in Austin, Texas.

KaiNexus is part of the Austin branch of Lean Construction Institute. Lean Construction Institute (LCI) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1997. The Institute operates as a catalyst to transform the industry through Lean project delivery using an operating system centered on a common language, fundamental principles, and basic practices.

They provide a way for lean construction practitioners to meet, share, and learn more about lean in the construction industry. Each year, LCI holds a major conference that brings hundreds of companies and lean practitioners together. Check out how to register for this year’s event in Anaheim, CA here.

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At the Austin branch of LCI,
members meet once a month for breakfast, lunch, or happy hour, and there is often a presentation involved. These presentations usually revolve around organizational success stories, best practices, and various other lean topics. For example, in December, HOAR Construction presented on how they incorporate lean principles in a construction environment and the resources they use to achieve results.

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A More Effective Measurement of Improvement Culture for Lean Consultants

Posted by Matt Banna

Feb 28, 2017 8:02:00 AM

Without a doubt, a lean consultant’s most important job is to help plant and a grow a culture of continuous improvement in an organization.

Planting a seed takes careful nurturing and dedication to actually grow the plant. Once a plant starts growing, it cannot be abandoned. A plant gives warning signs if it is in trouble. If a plant starts to brown, it might need more sunlight. If the plant starts to wilt, it might need more water.

Speaking with many consultants, I find that one of their biggest worries is that when they finish an engagement, they will come back a few months later to find that plant that they worked so hard to grow is wilted and dying.

An improvement culture cannot be created with a “drop and grow” approach; it needs careful maintenance to grow strong. However, it isn’t easy to measure the health of an improvement culture with spreadsheets or SharePoint files. While a plant gives warning signs in multiple ways, a spreadsheet does not. The only way to know if a culture is failing is that the spreadsheet won’t get filled out.

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For consultants, bringing a continuous improvement software platform into their repertoire gives them the ability to conduct health checks on their clients without even being in the building. Software keeps track of due dates, engagement and participation rates, giving consultants and improvement leaders added tools to keep growing their culture.

Specific boards and reporting capabilities partnered with powerful filtering features within continuous improvement software give the ability to see not just an entire organization, but to dive down into specific department or location levels.

Here are three examples of the powerful tools at your disposal:

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Topics: Lean Consulting

10 Commandments for Lean in Government

Posted by Matt Banna

Feb 22, 2017 3:04:00 AM

Not many people would be qualified to hand down 10 commandments for Lean in government, but as you can see from his QPIC biography profile, Harry Kenworthy is uniquely qualified. Kenworthy, Principal and Manager of the Quality and Productivity Improvement Center (QPIC, LLC), which he founded in 1984, was one of the first practitioners to apply Lean in the Government sector. Though he began helping private sector clients, today 97-98% of Kenworthy’s client base consists of cities, counties, federal agencies, state agencies, and k-12 school systems.

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A Quick Guide to Lean Construction

Posted by Matt Banna

Feb 16, 2017 8:24:00 AM


Readers of this blog know that the Lean approach to business management has taken root far outside of the manufacturing sector. It is used by healthcare organizations, software development firms, financial institutions, and even institutes of higher education. The construction industry likewise has benefited from applying and adapting the fundamental principles of Lean. Construction is a unique industry with each project being unlike the last. That’s why agile thinking, effective communications, and extensive collaboration are necessary to maximize value.

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Topics: Lean

How Consultants Can Use Improvement Software To Their Advantage

Posted by Matt Banna

Feb 10, 2017 3:15:01 PM

Our CEO, Dr. Greg Jacobson, has a cartoon hanging in his office. It must be pretty popular, because I found out Mark Graban actually referenced it a few years ago in this post.

The cartoon depicts a medieval king preparing to fight a battle with swords and shields - and a guy selling machine guns. The king is so focused on his next task, he is ignoring the salesman trying to sell him modern weapons, which would easily carry his army to victory if he took a moment to think about it.

This cartoon is funny because of the parallel between this situation, and one that we often come up against in sales. People are often so busy fighting fires that they’re unable to take a step back and find a solution for the root cause of those fires.

I liken spreadsheets and Sharepoint to the swords and shields in the cartoon. It might be obvious that modern weaponry would provide a great advantage in a medieval battle; it's not always so clear to lean consultants that software can provide a huge value-add to the way they serve their clients.

Rudimentary tools such as these have been effective before, and most people are familiar with their uses and limitations. But now it’s time to retire them in favor of something more effective. Just as the king has access to better tools, so, too, do continuous improvement programs have access to better tools for managing improvement work.

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Retiring Excel and Sharepoint in favor of continuous improvement software offers some key advantages: it saves the time spent building and maintaining the tool, allows consultants to focus on improvement work, and is optimized for the job.

Here are five key areas:

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Topics: Lean Consulting

How to Manage Your Improvement Metrics More Effectively and Efficiently

Posted by Matt Banna

Jan 31, 2017 3:44:07 PM

When used correctly, data can help an organization in their improvement process, guiding and shaping each step to make sure no resources are wasted. However when not used correctly, or when collected but not used at all, data can become a drain on those already limited resources.

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Hesitant to Move to Improvement Software? You're Not Alone.

Posted by Matt Banna

Jan 20, 2017 7:02:00 AM

As a guy that works on the Sales Team at KaiNexus, I often hear a lot of objections about making the move from paper and pencil, physical boards, and excel spreadsheets to a completely digital system. I understand those objections. As humans, we’re creatures of habit. Change can be difficult, especially moving to something new and unfamiliar.

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Topics: Software, Continuous Improvement Software

Common Questions About Strategy Deployment Software

Posted by Matt Banna

Jan 18, 2017 3:16:15 PM

Strategy Deployment is a hot topic in continuous improvement circles these days. We’re delighted to see that because effective strategy deployment can make the difference between reaching the goals of the organization in the expected time frame and failing to achieve the breakthrough objectives. Of course, strategy deployment isn’t easy and few companies really excel at the practice. Strategy deployment software has been developed to help provide a structure for the practice and keep organizations on track. We’ve had lots of productive conversations with leaders about how strategy deployment software can help smooth the path to success. Here are the questions that we get asked most often.

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Topics: Software, Strategy Deployment