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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement

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Kaizen and the Art of Kintsugi: Redefining Perfection

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 21, 2019 1:05:48 PM

As regular readers of this blog know, many of the ideas and practices that guide the modern continuous improvement movement have their origins in Japanese philosophy and culture. Today’s leaders talk about kaizen (improvement), hoshin kanri (direction setting), and kanban (visual management) regularly. Recently, while scrolling through my Instagram feed of all things, I was struck by another Japanese concept that deserves some thought in the business context as well – the art of Kintsugi.

Kintsugi which translates to “golden journey” and is also known as Kintsukurio (golden repair) is the art of repairing broken pottery by joining the broken pieces with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. No attempt is made to hide the repair; in fact, the technique highlights it. The repair becomes part of the history of the object. The object is not beautiful despite the fact that it was broken, it is more beautiful because it was broken.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Kaizen

More Brilliantly Simple Continuous Improvement Techniques

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 4, 2019 2:35:56 PM

A while back, we wrote about some continuous quality improvement techniques that we love because they are easy but powerful. One of the most important realizations that people have, when they start to build an organization focused on excellence and constant improvement, is that the path is not complicated. It’s really all about getting the little things right and providing people with a structured way to think about incremental operational change. The original post contained some of our favorite tools. This one has a few more.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

3 Thought Provoking Business Process Improvement Examples

Posted by Noah Paratore

May 24, 2019 8:23:00 AM

We talk a lot about the mechanics of business process improvement and the technology to support it on this blog. Today, we thought we’d share some real-world examples of process improvements that made a difference to critical performance metrics.

They come from a wide array of industries and target vastly different problems. What they have in common is that someone recognized an opportunity for improvement, found the root cause, and implemented a fix.

To top it off, none of these improvements cost a dime.

You probably don’t have these specific challenges, but these business process improvement examples might get you thinking in a new way about the ones you do face.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

6 Tips for Crowdsourcing Innovation Ideas

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 23, 2019 7:11:00 AM

When we ask people about innovation, they usually leap to radical breakthroughs like self-driving cars, alternative energy sources, or space colonies. While these things are innovative, the term innovation simply means a change to an established method or idea. Storing your forks closer to the dishwasher is innovation. In companies, incremental changes like optimizing a process, or solving a long-standing problem can be as necessary for success as introducing a new product or selling to a new market.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Innovation Software, Employee Engagement

8 Ways Virtual Huddle Boards Accelerate Improvement

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 29, 2019 11:55:24 AM

Huddle boards are a popular visual management technique that is often used in conjunction with a daily huddle meeting. Teams gather around to chat about the top priorities for the day. Daily incremental improvements are discussed and evaluated. The intent is fantastic, but there are some significant limitations when using a physical board hanging on a wall. That’s why there is a trend away from physical boards to virtual ones. Modern cloud capabilities make it easy and inexpensive for organizations of all types to gain the advantages of digitizing their huddle boards. Here is a look at some of those benefits.

How Leading Companies are Improving Visual Management

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Daily Lean Management, Visual Management

When Daily Huddles Go Astray

Posted by Clint Corley

Apr 23, 2019 7:32:00 AM

When I decided to write this post, I thought it would be interesting to see what others have written about the practice of daily huddle meetings. Wow! There are a lot of ideas out there about what should happen during a huddle. It took me a minute to realize that not every organization gears its huddle toward continuous improvement. Some use the huddles for team building, status updates, training, or even employee performance evaluation.

That’s all fine, of course, folks can use their huddle for whatever they like, but if your goal is to use your daily huddle as part of a continuous improvement initiative, there are some warning signs that all is not well. In the context of improvement, the goal of the daily huddle is to agree on the priorities for the day. That seems simple enough, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Here are a few of the problems that can come up and how to tackle them.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Daily Lean Management

Is it Time to Rethink Your Daily Huddle Board?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 23, 2018 10:15:46 AM

Daily huddle meetings accompanied by the visual management tool of a huddle board are a favorite improvement management technique in several business methodologies including Lean and Agile management. Industries of all types use them to help teams stay on the same page and ensure that forward momentum on improvement projects is maintained.

However, as with many other business practices, sometimes an idea comes from a good place, but over time, in practice, it no longer achieves its purpose as well as it could.

We find that situation quite a bit when it comes to huddle boards. Teams get in the habit of the daily meeting, but after a while, it becomes a thing to check off the list every day, rather than a useful, efficient approach to improvement.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your huddle meeting and boards that will help you determine if you are on the right track or need a course correction.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Daily Lean Management, Visual Management

The Essential CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement) Glossary

Posted by Ryan Rippey

Dec 15, 2017 7:09:00 AM

CQI, like many other disciplines, has a language all its own. Many of the terms are acronyms, others are Japanese words retained from Toyota’s original improvement methodologies, and some reference specific techniques that may be unfamiliar. So, if you’re a bit confused when getting into the weeds of CQI, you are not alone. This is not a comprehensive list of improvement terms, but it is a good start and should be a welcome asset to anyone new to the approach. We’ll tackle the list alphabetically.

5S: This is a workplace organization technique with roots in the Japanese auto industry. The five words that start with S in both Japanese and English are sort, set, shine, standardize and sustain. 

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Improvement Methodology

Idea Boards for the Modern Workforce

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Oct 25, 2017 7:48:00 AM

Call me crazy, but I think the world’s first idea board was probably painted on a cave. People have an innate ability to process visual information. So it makes sense to me that our early ancestors would have communicated their plans and suggestions with pictures on the wall. They likely had daily huddles and didn’t even know it.

Early humans evolved and eventually spent the workday in an office or factory rather than hunting food in the wilderness. Idea boards evolved too and became a poster board or whiteboard where ideas were collected (often on Post-its) and grouped in deliberate ways to quickly communicate information. The “To-Do, Doing, Done” arrangement is popular because anyone who sees it can immediately assess the amount of work in progress compared to the backlog.

Idea boards are used for serial projects, like software development that has a beginning, middle, and an end. Work moves through the board like a stream. They are also used for “messier” endeavors like brainstorming new product ideas or collecting suggestions for improvement.

In short, idea boards are pretty awesome, but evolution never ends and we’d argue that it’s time to move beyond Post-its and whiteboard markers and make the leap into the cloud by digitizing every idea board. Your modern workforce will thank you for it. Here’s why.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Continuous Improvement Software, Improvement Methodology

How Digitizing Your Idea Boards Amplifies their Impact

Posted by Jake Sussman

Sep 5, 2017 7:21:00 AM

If you have (or are considering creating) an idea board to collect employee suggestions for improvement, please take a minute to pat yourself on the back. You obviously realize the value of employee ideas and understand that not all innovation comes from the top down. You are also willing to act on that instinct and try to gather opportunities for improvement from all sources. Good for you!

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Continuous Improvement Software, Improvement Methodology

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