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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement


Five Lean Manufacturing Principles You Might Not Know (But Probably Should)

Posted by Matt Banna

Aug 3, 2017 7:02:00 AM

Learning about Lean systems is often exciting and motivating for organizations eager to create sustainable long-term business success. One of the first things we all learn about Lean is that it was created in manufacturing, specifically within Toyota and the automotive industry. But, for those of us in fields outside of manufacturing—healthcare, construction, education, government, software and so on— the excitement of what can be accomplished with Lean sometimes leads us to skip over some of the finer Lean manufacturing principles in lieu of taking action on things with a clearer impact on our organization.

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Topics: Lean

Why Process Control Charts are a Roadmap to Improvement

Posted by Matt Banna

Aug 1, 2017 7:13:00 AM

Organizations that subscribe to the Lean or Six Sigma business methodology, and others that are devoted to continuous improvement, often use a host of visual management tools to achieve consistency and introduce positive change. Kanban, huddle boards, and value stream maps are all very popular and effective. Process control charts are another valuable visual management tool for recognizing and reacting to process variation.

Here are the details about why they are so useful.

Statistical Process Control

It is probably helpful to begin with a definition of process. A process is quite simply anything that gets done. It could be putting gas in your car, filling out a time sheet, delivering source code to QA, or checking in a patient. Each of these activities results in some output. Sometimes it is a product, but often it is a service or a deliverable to the next process. In addition to the result of the process, data is also generated. Statistical process control is the act of using that data to make the process better. The data might be related to timeliness, cost, quality, or quantity.

Listen to this Post and Subscribe to the Podcast:

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Topics: Lean, Change Management, Six Sigma, Improvement Process

Ideas for Spreading Improvement from Our Lady of the Lake Hospital

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 31, 2017 10:46:48 AM

Here at KaiNexus, we often get a peek into some of the truly remarkable improvement initiatives and work that organizations undertake to create positive change for their customers and employees. Recently, KaiNexus Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services, Mark Graban, spoke with Lindsey Booty and LeaAnne Teague from Our Lady of the Lake hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Both Booty and Teague work in the Lean Management Office of Our Lady of the Lake, which is an 800-bed teaching hospital that began using Lean and CAP [Change Acceleration Process] methodology about three years ago.

Listen to the Interview
and Subscribe to the Podcast:

“CAP is change acceleration, we learned it from our GE counterparts when they were here with us in a consulting role, and it helps to ensure that you have the “people” portion of improvement considered. It goes through creating a shared need with your peers and with your team members, making sure that they’re properly bought into the change, ensuring that systems and structures around the organization are set up to make sure that the changes are sustained throughout improvement. It really helps us to get aligned with the “people” side of improvement that’s often left out when you just look at quality solutions,” Booty said.

“Three years ago was around the time that people really began to talk about highly reliable organizations, and to be highly reliable you needed this very robust process improvement platform,” Teague said. “Our leadership really looked at that, took the challenge, and said it’s through Lean methodology and it’s through change acceleration that we want to begin to make our mark.”

A big part of Our Lady of the Lake’s improvement efforts centered around Lean boot camps they hold bi-annually. However, in 2017 a new electronic medical records (EMR) system was installed at Our Lady of the Lake, which represented separate improvement work that needed to be completed.

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Enhancing the Power of Idea Boards with Improvement Software

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 28, 2017 11:54:30 AM

Idea boards have been used for quite some time now as a way to engage staff in continuous improvement. They're an excellent improvement on a suggestion box system, since the boxes have (on average) just a 2% implementation rate. Idea boards are used in companies around the world in every industry, with varying levels of results.

In this post, we'll look at the value idea boards bring to the table, and how to improve upon them with the use of new technology.

What are some benefits of idea boards?

  1. Inspiring Engagement

    When you have a board filled with opportunities for improvement submitted by your front line staff, the result organizations want is increased engagement in the improvement culture and enthusiasm for getting involved. Seeing those ideas - and the effort going into implementing them - inspires people to come with their own ideas, and it makes improvement part of the daily conversation.

  2. Sharing Ideas

    Humans are wired to improve. We want to do things to improve the goods and services we provide to our customers and patients, and we want to make our own jobs better, safer, and more efficient. Idea boards extend the usefulness of each improvement we make by sharing them with other people in our work area. Say, for example, that you determine it would be more efficient to store supplies in a new location. Rather than just moving them in your own work space, you can share the idea on an idea board and thus bring it to the attention of everyone else in the area. In this way, your own incremental improvement has a much larger impact on the organization.
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Strength in Numbers: Improving from the Bottom-Up [Webinar Preview]

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 26, 2017 11:18:51 AM

I was so excited to do this podcast interview with Mark Graban about tomorrow's webinar, I just had to share it with you all here on the blog, too.

On this episode of the KaiNexus Podcast, Mark Graban, founder of LeanBlog.org and the VP of Innovation and Improvement Services here at KaiNexus, gave us a preview of tomorrow's webinar titled Strength in Numbers: Improving from the bottom up.

Strength in Numbers: 
Improving from the Bottom-Up

July 27 from 1:00 - 2:00 ET

Register Now

In this webinar, you'll learn:

  • Where your best ideas for improvement come from
  • Why bottom-up improvement is a critical component of an improvement culture
  • The ROI of engaging everyone in improvement
  • How to engage more staff in improvement
  • How to keep up with all of those new ideas


Listen to the Interview and Subscribe to the Podcast:


If you've been keeping up with KaiNexus, you know that this is a topic near and dear to our hearts. Our continuous improvement platform was originally created to facilitate bottom-up improvement, spreading into top-down improvement and strategy deployment over the years to support more comprehensive improvement cultures.

Bottom-up improvement refers to ideas from front line staff about how they can improve their work. These improvements save money and generate revenue, save time, improve customer and patient satisfaction and safety, and make the company a better, safer place to work.

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What to Focus on When Picking Six Sigma Software

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jul 25, 2017 12:15:25 PM

Investing in software to support your Six Sigma initiatives is an effective way to make sure that you get the most out of the methodology. Setting up a structure for improvement makes it simpler for people throughout the organization to participate in, and effectively oversee, continuous improvement efforts.

Organizations that leverage Six Sigma software collect more opportunities for improvement, implement more solutions, and see a higher ROI for Six Sigma. There are a number of solutions on the market that were either developed as Six Sigma management tools or repurposed as such, so we thought it might be helpful to identify some of the most important capabilities that you should look for when evaluating this type of technology.

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Topics: Six Sigma, Continuous Improvement Software

How Leading Companies are Improving Visual Management [WEBINAR]

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jul 21, 2017 7:10:00 AM

In a recent webinar titled Taking Improvement Boards Digital: How Leading Companies are Improving Visual Management, our CEO and Co-founder Dr. Greg Jacobson and Mark Graban, our Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services and founder of LeanBlog.org, walked viewers through the ins and outs of improvement boards and how improvement software is helping organizations take their boards to the next level.

Watch the full webinar here:

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Topics: Visual Management

10 Tips for a Successful Gemba Walk

Posted by Kade Jansson

Jul 20, 2017 8:11:00 AM

When we chat with leaders about how they are using various continuous improvement tools and techniques, Gemba Walks are often a hot topic. Interestingly, we find that people either view them as very effective and a great way to connect with the team and find opportunities for improvement, or they see them as a big waste of time.

What sets the two camps apart?

We find that leaders who get the most out of their visits to the Gemba have a few things in common. They generally follow each of these best practices. By adopting them, many leaders who didn’t get a lot out of their Gemba walks are able to make them much more useful.

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Topics: Gemba Walk

From the Model A to the Model 3: The Opportunity Cost of Failing to Improve

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 19, 2017 9:41:14 AM

The definition of opportunity cost is "a benefit that a person could have received, but gave up, to take another course of action. Stated differently, an opportunity cost represents an alternative given up when a decision is made. This cost is, therefore, most relevant for two mutually exclusive events."

Think about this in the context of opting to implement continuous improvement software. That decision is pretty clear-cut; either you implement the software, or you don't.

While people understand the concept of opportunity cost when it comes to, say, investing, applying that concept to improvement seems to be a bit more elusive.

In this post, I'd like to take a look at the opportunity cost of NOT implementing improvement software.

Typically, when we're trying to get an organization to calculate the cost of each idea they fail to capture and implement, they get stumped right off the bat because they don't know the value of their ideas and have no way to measure the numbers that are getting lost along the way.

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8 Important Questions about Kaizen Events, Answered

Posted by Matt Banna

Jul 17, 2017 10:22:11 AM

Kaizen events are an effective way to implement changes quickly. They are also a great way to get team members involved in improvement and to foster cross-functional collaboration. When we chat with people who are relatively new to structured continuous quality improvement, they often have questions about Kaizen events.

Here are answers to the ones we hear most frequently.

What is Kaizen?

This may seem like a strange question for someone considering doing a Kaizen event, but it is surprising how often the technique is introduced without the necessary context. Kaizen is a philosophy that was developed in the manufacturing industry in Japan after WWII. The term is translated as “positive change.” It is the idea that continuous improvement is both necessary and possible. It focuses on respect for people and the belief that even small improvements can have a big impact.

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Topics: Kaizen