Our KaiNexus Continuous Improvement Podcast host, Mark Graban, interviews Linda Vicaro, Senior Lean Strategist, about why she joined KaiNexus. You can now listen to the episode here or read the podcast transcript below.
Or, you can view it on YouTube:
Mark Graban: Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the "KaiNexus Continuous Improvement Podcast." I'm Mark Graban. We're joined today by Linda Vicaro. She is one of our new KaiNexians, as we refer to people within the company. She is a Lean Process Improvement Specialist, and we're going to learn more about Linda today.
Linda, thanks for being here. How are you today?
Linda Vicaro: I'm pretty good. Thanks for having me.
Mark: Welcome aboard to the KaiNexus team. Many of us knew you before you joined, and I know that'll be part of the story that you tell here. Maybe, first off, if you could share with us, tell us about your role. What does it mean to be a Lean Process Improvement Specialist here?
Linda: Sure. My official title is Senior Lean Strategist. In that work, I am working a lot with customers. One of the things that we are doing right now are optimization reviews.
I'm meeting with customers and their CSMs and looking at the way that they're utilizing their instance of KaiNexus. Also looking at that alongside their culture of continuous improvement, and helping them to make sure that they're getting the most out of the system, and that it's supporting the work that they're doing on the outside.
Mark: Getting the most out of the system that's the summary of the optimization review in particular, right?
Linda: Yeah. Another component of the work that I'm doing is supporting our team at KaiNexus, so if there's an opportunity for a customer who has some question about the work that they're doing in terms of continuous improvement or whether they're doing things the right way or whether there are better ways to do that work.
My history is as a continuous improvement specialist on the ground. I can come in and talk with them and have a conversation, make some suggestions, and bring some outside technology world experience to the table.
Mark: You're doing work with Chris Burnham who's been a guest on the podcast talking about his role. All of us or should have both of you do a podcast or a webinar at some point about the optimization review process and take a deeper dive into that.
Linda: That would be great.
Mark: Again, something for our KaiNexus customers to take advantage of and work with Linda on. Maybe, before we talk about why you joined KaiNexus, can you share a little bit more about your experience working in continuous improvement? Why is that so important to you?
Linda: Yeah. I actually have been in the field of continuous improvement for about 16 years. I started working in healthcare through a nonprofit here in Pittsburgh and spent my time there as a consultant. We were doing training, courses, and doing a bit of travel and a lot of training locally. From there, I moved to a hospital here in Pittsburgh, and I made that move in about 2012.
After being there for about a year, I was a part of a team of two there for about 2,500 employees. After being there for about a year, we started looking at opportunities to integrate technology into the way that we did work, and that's when I came across KaiNexus. I spent about four years, maybe five years, there as a customer of KaiNexus, of the seven years that I was there.
Basically, I was one of the KaiNexus champions. I was doing a lot of the hands-on work in the system, training other people to use the system, and thinking about our strategies and how it was supporting our continuous improvement. As a customer, I have a lot of experience with KaiNexus.
Then, in late 2019, I left the hospital and took a position actually in long-term care doing similar work and spent a couple of years there before I came to KaiNexus.
Mark: That leads us into the other question I was going to ask you, so then why did you join KaiNexus?
Linda: I have been in love with KaiNexus since I first met the team and saw the product. It helped us so much in the hospital. It gave us so much insight into the improvement work that was happening on the ground, the insight that we couldn't get from Excel, which was the way that we were tracking improvement before KaiNexus.
I fell even more in love with the company when I went to a user conference for the first time because that's when it became obvious to me that it was more than just a technology platform, that this is a team of people who live and breathe continuous improvement.
They practice what they preach. They believe that the work that they do is going to make the world a better place. I think it says that on the website and in more than one location. It's clear to me that that's true.
Honestly, before I joined KaiNexus, I had had an eye on the available job postings for quite a while, but there wasn't anything that ever fit my expertise. As Lean strategy became a part of the work that's happening at KaiNexus, it was a nice opportunity for me to use that experience as a customer and also my expertise in continuous improvement.
Mark: I know we were excited when you joined us. Like you said, that fit is clear in your ability to relate with customers because you've been in their shoes. What's the technology analogy you've used? The mouse and keyboard. [laughs]
Linda: Sure, yeah.
Mark: You've walked, and they're mouse, anyway. You mean that you can relate to them what they're trying to do and why to better help them.
Linda: We have such an incredible team at KaiNexus. Everyone is so skilled and so compassionate and understanding of the work that their customers are doing, but there's something different about having been a customer that gives me insight that it's hard for someone who hasn't been a customer to gain.
I think there are times when that skill set is just changes the game. I can come in and talk with people and have a better understanding of what it is that they're struggling with, and what the barrier is that they're trying to overcome, so I can help to move the work they're doing to the next stage.
Mark: I like how you said that. Amazing. Beyond skill set, there's that empathy of realizing what our customers are working toward is important, but it's challenging and it's difficult.
Creating a culture of continuous improvement isn't snapping your fingers or flipping a light switch or turning on KaiNexus, but we appreciate what they're working toward. It's great that we're able to help them not just through technology but by offering advice and help from people like you.
Linda: I hope that that's the difference that I bring to the table. I feel very valued, and I also feel valuable. It always makes me happy when someone asks me to join a meeting and thinks that I have something that I'll be able to offer and that I can connect with customer. It's a nice shift.
I appreciate the time that I get to spend with so many different people doing such different work. It's been eye-opening to me, the different approaches that people have to this basic improvement work.
Mark: Maybe, one thing that just touched on before we wrap up. You mentioned getting to work with so many different people. You told us how your background is in healthcare. Now, you get to work with people doing continuous improvement in many industries. Tell us more about that.
Linda: I think that working with people in other industries is helping me to see the ways that the work is the same. It reinforces the fact that it doesn't matter what industry you're working in.
Doing continuous improvement work, you're running into the same barriers and challenges. You're running into frontline users who don't have the same access, in our instance, the same access to technology that the managers and leaders do.
How do we overcome that and make sure that their voices are still heard, that they're still participating in improvement work, and that we're tapping into them as a source of expertise? That doesn't change.
Whether you're in a hospital or whether you're in a manufacturing facility, that's still the real challenge. How do we get all of those voices contributing in a positive way, so that we can grow and become better?
Mark: That's very well said. Linda, maybe, we'll end on that high note there. Appreciate everything you've shared and talk to us about today.
To wrap up, again, we've been joined by Linda Vicaro, Senior Lean Strategist and Process Improvement Specialist with her background and experience, Lean brings so much to us and to our customers.
If you want to learn more about Linda, you can find her bio on our website at kainexus.com. You can find her on LinkedIn. If you're listening as a customer, I know she will help you. If you're a potential customer, you can look forward to working with Linda and the rest of the team. Linda, thanks again for being here.
Linda: Thank you.