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Are You Creating a Monster with Your Improvement Technology?

Posted by Maggie Millard

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Jun 19, 2015 8:14:00 AM

I recently watched a recording of a talk Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan gave at their annual “Inbound” conference last year. They are the co-founders of Hubspot, the revolutionary inbound marketing software that we use at KaiNexus. Their message brought to mind a problem that we hear about all too often in the continuous improvement community: Franken-Systems. You probably don’t call it a Franken-System - the term was coined by Dharmesh - but I bet you’ll recognize the problem.

Listen to the post via our KaiNexus Continuous Improvement Podcast series:

What does a continuous improvement Franken-System look like?


A continuous improvement Franken-System can take many forms. Perhaps a company manages daily improvement with a physical Kaizen board that hangs on the wall, and gets employee ideas from a suggestion box. They send email updates about the board. They want a permanent record of the improvement work, so they take pictures of the notecards and save them in a shared file. They do the same with A3s and Value Stream Maps. They list and organize their improvements by file name in a spreadsheet, so they can search them later. They use calendar reminders to follow up on old improvements. They turn to project management software for larger initiatives and task management tools to manage little improvements. They have a wall in an office dedicated to tracking the impact of improvement ideas. Every department has its own method for capturing, implementing, measuring, and sharing improvements. Some have even gone so far as to solicit the help of the IT department in building a SharePoint site.

In case you lost count, that’s over 15 different types of documentation for managing improvement work. These systems typically aren’t connected, or they’re connected in very manual and clunky ways. That is a Franken-System.

Franken-Systems are created with the best intentions. Someone started using each of those methods in order to do something new, improve something old, or organize something more effectively. Sooner or later, though, they wake up to find that they’ve created a monster, and the longer this goes on, that monster starts to deteriorate.

Over time, this Franken-System will be called on to handle more ideas and implement more and more improvements. In no time, the organization will not know who is participating and who is struggling. They won’t be able to respond quickly enough to new ideas, questions, or completed improvements; and very soon their employees’ enthusiasm starts to wane. Cross functional collaboration becomes a joke, and a lack of standardization makes reporting and measuring the impact of improvement impossible. The percentage of ideas actually implemented drops because they can’t keep up with the tasks, the data, the updates. Soon, everything falls apart, and they spend as much time bolting the monster back to together as they do actually improving their work.

As Dharmesh says, “What ends up happening with [Franken] systems - it may take a month, it may take several months, it may take a year - is that the monster stops working for you, and you start working for the monster.”

“What ends up happening with [Franken] systems - it may take a month, it may take several months, it may take a year - is that the monster stops working for you, and you start working for the monster.”

Does this sound familiar? Have you devoted a portion of your life to bolting your continuous improvement monster back together?


So. What do you do when your monster stops working for you?

First, you need to give up on patching more pieces onto the Franken-System. Then, invest in one holistic piece of software that’s been specifically designed to do everything your Franken-System was supposed to do (and more), without the headache of managing a monster amalgamation of disconnected single-purpose tools.

There wasn’t a tool like that available for continuous improvement when KaiNexus co-founder Greg Jacobson needed it back in 2005, so he and Matt Paliulis spent the next decade developing it, testing it in real use, and improving it over time. KaiNexus now gives customers the ability to manage all of their improvement work from a single, user-friendly, adaptable platform. Hubspot has a similar story, and describes their mission similarly. As Dharmesh says, “We’re going to do all the things. We’re going to do all the things that need to be done so that we can get people off the sidelines and into the game.”

“We’re going to do all the things. We’re going to do all the things that need to be done so that we can get people off the sidelines and into the game.”


Do you need to have KaiNexus to spread continuous improvement?


You can build a Franken-System, and if you cobble things together well enough, you can keep up with all of these requirements - until you can’t. When that time comes and you find that you’re serving the monster instead of the other way around, take a look at KaiNexus.  For now, it is the only commercially-available technology that does “all the things” in a single system.

The ability to “do all the things” is something that you’ll only find in a platform developed for a specific purpose. If your purpose is to spread continuous improvement, then your system must enable you to:

  1. Capture opportunities for improvement
  2. Implement those improvements
  3. Measure the impact of continuous improvement (financial and otherwise)
  4. Share ideas

The Benefits of Replacing your Franken-System with KaiNexus:


  1. It’s easier to get more people involved in improvement work when they only have one system to learn
  2. Investing in a professional software platform is much more effective and less expensive than developing something in-house 
  3. Improved communication and visibility improves follow up, which increases the percentage of improvements you can actually implement
  4. Providing people with an easy way to submit and work on their own ideas makes them more likely to come forward with opportunities for improvement.
  5. Better reporting, sharing, and communication will engage more people in continuous improvement
  6. Automated impact and engagement reporting pull data from all elements of your improvement program, from small, daily improvements on the front line to large top-down initiative
  7. KaiNexus does the legwork for you to share ideas, ensuring each improvement has the maximum impact throughout the organization without adding to your workload
  8. You’ll have more time to make improvements as you spend less time on administrative functions
  9. Automated reminders make sure nothing falls off the radar, so that you can provide your staff with timely feedback and never lose an improvement idea.
  10. Your executives will have high-level visibility into the improvement work your employees are doing, and can drill down into the specifics on anything they’re interested in.
  11. You’ll be able to accurately evaluate your employees and work areas based on their participation and the impact of their improvement work.


Want to see if your organization is ready for KaiNexus or if it can cruise along with its Franken-System a little while longer?

Schedule a no-obligation demo today to see what KaiNexus has to offer.



Topics: Continuous Improvement Software

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