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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement


Previewing How to Coach for Creativity and Service Excellence [Upcoming Webinar]

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 10, 2017 1:03:59 PM

On March 28, KaiNexus will be hosting a webinar with Karyn Ross, who recently published the Shingo Award-winning book The Toyota Way to Service Excellence: Lean Transformation in Service Organizations, which she co-wrote with Jeff Liker. Ross is a purpose-driven consultant and Lean coach, and will be speaking to our own Mark Graban about how to coach for creativity and service excellence. Graban just had a conversation with Ross about what webinar viewers can expect to learn in the webinar, which you can listen to here:

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Topics: Leadership

The Advantages of Applying Lean in Education

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 9, 2017 8:36:00 AM

America’s education system faces an enormously complex set of challenges. Educators find themselves faced with community and government pressure to improve student performance, but often without corresponding funding or influence over policies and expectations. In short, our school administrations and teachers are being asked to do more with less.

That’s why it isn’t surprising to find that education professionals are turning to a business management approach that has proven very effective in other sectors such as manufacturing and healthcare.

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Topics: Lean, Continuous Improvement in Education

Turning a Project Management Office & Continuous Improvement into an Innovation Team

Posted by Jake Sussman

Mar 8, 2017 8:19:00 AM

We love highlighting Lean success stories here at KaiNexus and so we were very excited when Erin Edwards, Continuous Improvement Manager at Four Seasons Produce agreed to host a webinar with us to highlight their success turning a Project Management Office (PMO) into an “Innovation Team.” Edwards is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with experience in both project management and continuous improvement and had been working with Four Seasons Produce for about five years when the webinar took place.

The webinar, Turning Continuous Improvement and a PMO into an Innovation Team, was hosted by our Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services, and founder of LeanBlog.org, Mark Graban. You can watch the full recorded webinar here. 

Four Seasons Produce is a full-service wholesale distributor and supplier of fresh organic, local, and conventional produce, which they supply to organic markets, food co-ops, independent retailers, chain stores, juice bars, and other produce buyers in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.

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Celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, Four Seasons Produce is growing; its 262,000 square foot warehouse in Ephrata Pennsylvania underwent a major expansion last year, which added space to both the warehouse and truck garages for their vehicle fleet.  

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Topics: Customer Testimonials, Webinars

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

What You Need to Know About Working at KaiNexus

Posted by Matt Paliulis

Mar 6, 2017 9:48:04 AM

Editor’s Note: For those of you who have anxiously been awaiting the news that KaiNexus is hiring (anyone? anyone?), I’m happy to announce that we’re looking for a front end web developer for our Dallas office! I’ve never actually been to the Dallas office (most of our team is in Austin, so we meet there), so I asked Matt Paliulis, our COO and Co-Founder, to tell us what it’s like to work there in the land of KaiNexus Developers. If you’re ready to apply, go here to learn more about this particular job - and if you need more convincing, read on!


Here at KaiNexus, we believe that each person in our company plays a critical role in the success of our company - and our customers. We’ve grown rapidly over the past couple of years, but we’re still a small team, making each person’s contributions critical.

When most people think of a tech startup, they envision a bunch of dudes in the break room wearing virtual reality headsets chugging Red Bull at 3 am. This stereotypical version of a tech startup exists somewhere, but that’s not us.

We have no Foosball table, we don’t drink energy drinks all day (well, unless you count good coffee and tea), and we don’t sit around playing video games and high-fiving. 

That’s not to say that working at KaiNexus isn’t awesome, though. KaiNexus people are passionate people who love coming to work each day; they love the challenge of solving difficult problems. They love being able to see their ideas come to life and help mold the future of our company and product. They love learning new things. A common answer to a ‘can you do….?' or 'have you done….?’ question, is 'Not yet.’

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Topics: Continuous Improvement Software

Rhythm, Motion, Basketball and…Lean?

Posted by Clint Corley

Mar 3, 2017 11:52:39 AM

All my life, I’ve been an avid basketball fan. In my younger days, some would say I was a decent player, though many moons have passed since then. Every time we stepped on the court, one of my team’s goals was to get into a “rhythm.”

The dictionary definition of rhythm is “a regular, repeated pattern of beats, sounds, activity, or movements.” For any non-sports aficionado reading this, imagine a group of individuals working together to achieve a common goal. Each person in this group is moving fluidly through their individual responsibilities, and the entire group’s activities are synced together in unison; much like a choir singing beautiful four-part harmony.

On the basketball court, our goal was to create that same harmony, except using movement instead of sound. If we could accomplish that, we could predict what events were about to transpire and act accordingly.

When a basketball team creates a rhythm they commit fewer turnovers, increase the percentage of shots made, make more efficient use of their time on the court, and execute as close to flawless as human nature will allow. Now, you can’t ever be perfect, but being in a rhythm allows you to improve the small factors of the game, and those factors add up to victories.

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How does this apply to Lean? Great question. To answer it, let’s examine the eight wastes of lean as defined by the Toyota Production System (TPS):

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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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Top 7 Most Important Features of Strategy Deployment Software

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Mar 1, 2017 8:10:00 AM

If you are considering investing in strategy deployment software to support your organization’s efforts to achieve your most important objectives, we congratulate you. Too many leaders talk a big game when it comes to strategy, but fail to provide the company with the tools and information necessary to effectively carry it out. (Here’s a good example of what can go wrong.)

There are a lot of systems out there that could be sold as a strategy deployment solution. You can find everything from glorified spreadsheets to purpose-built improvement platforms. We’ve had the chance to chat with lots of folks who have been through the selection and implementation process, so we thought it would be useful to share a few of the features that make all of the difference.

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Topics: Strategy Deployment

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

Incident Reporting is Only the Beginning

Posted by Maggie Millard

Feb 27, 2017 10:32:20 AM

Have you seen the LifeLock commercial about the bank robbery?  A group of robbers comes in with baseball bats and demand that everyone get on the floor. The customers ask the uniformed security officer to do something. Instead, he says, “Oh, I’m not a security guard. I’m a security monitor. I only notify people if there’s a robbery.” He looks at the customers and reports, “There’s a robbery.” The narrator asks, "Why monitor a problem if you don't fix it?"

Of course, LifeLock is being a little silly to make a point, but the truth is that many incident reporting systems are much like this “security monitor.” They are well-intentioned and designed to allow people to easily report problems, but not to solve them or prevent recurrence. I guess having a list of incidents is better than not, but real progress comes from corrective and preventative action. Reporting is only the first step.

The best solutions combine incident reporting with corrective action, prevention, and impact assessment features.

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Topics: Software, Improvement Methodology