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Continuous Improvement Changed the Trajectory of My Life

Posted by Maggie Millard

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May 21, 2015 10:28:00 AM

KaiNexus CEO Greg JacobsonRemember a couple of weeks ago when I told you that our CEO Greg Jacobson was going to be featured in an upcoming episode of the Lean Leadership Podcast with Chris Burnham? Today is the day! 

Hop on over to the Lean Leadership Podcast to hear the interview. Listen here! 


"Greg didn't have a sensei, or famous Lean mentor. He read a copy of Masaaki Imai's book Kaizen, and that started him down his journey. In this podcast today we'll talk about his failures with an email based electronic suggestion box, his advice to people who say 'No, we're not ready yet,' the power of listening, and how we coach managers to coach their people."

"You can't think your way into a new way of acting... you have to act your way into a new way of thinking." 

- John Shook, Lean Leadership Institute

[Kaizen] really changed the trajectory of my life from that point on.

"If you had told me when I finished residency that 10 or 12 years later, I'd be the CEO of a software company, I would have looked at you like you were smoking something like the patients I see in the ER. It was a matter of the profession finding me. I got very interested in system based practice and process improvement. It's funny - in medicine, I never heard the words "process improvement" until I finished residency and someone handed me Masaaki Imai's book Kaizen. It was the profession finding me, and really changed the trajectory of my life from that point on."


The biggest mistake I made? Thinking a homegrown solution would spread continuous improvement.

"I realized the huge applicability of process improvement in any system, and healthcare was no different. So I started to teach these principles to our residents to so that we could have a continuous improvement. The mistake I made was realizing that we needed a way to track all of the Kaizen ideas, the opportunities for improvement, and thinking that you could build something homegrown that would actually help spread continuous improvement."

"I went down a three year rat hole of trying to be a software developer by night, but trying to promote continuous improvement at my organization by day. That ultimately led to the realization that if you were really going to build technology that would help connect people and help spread continuous improvement, you were going to need to become a technology company. That was why I made the decision  to found a software company where our core competency is to develop excellent software that really helps promote the spread continuous improvement, rather than it being a homegrown afterthought - "Oh let's take an access database" - which ultimately hurts the endeavor in the long run."

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