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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement

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13 Essential Process Improvement Tools

Posted by Matt Banna

Aug 16, 2019 8:59:37 AM

After many years speaking with leaders and managers looking to implement continuous process improvement tools in their organizations, we’ve learned a few things. The first is that every organization is different and what scores a home run for one, may not even get a hit in another. The second is that despite these differences, many of the process improvement tools that have been developed over the last 50 years can be adapted to be useful for organizations of all types and sizes.

This post provides a brief introduction to some of the process improvement tools that our customers have used to reduce costs, improve safety, assure quality, and increase customer satisfaction. For each tool, we've included a link to more detailed information. Many are borrowed from the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, but you don’t have to be using one of them to find value in these techniques.

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Topics: Daily Lean Management, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

The Lean Linchpin: Middle Managers

Posted by Jake Sussman

Jul 29, 2019 3:07:21 PM

A linchpin is a fastener passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position. The term is also used figuratively, according to Wikipedia, to describe, “something [or someone] that holds the various elements of a complicated structure together.” What an apt description of the role of middle managers in a Lean environment.

When we talk about the Lean business management approach or just continuous improvement in general, we often say that it involves everyone from the CEO to front line workers. In the literature about Lean, a lot of emphasis is put on what top leaders need to do to create a culture of improvement. There’s also much discussion about how to keep operational workers involved and engaged. Both are essential, but it is a huge mistake to underestimate the role of middle management.

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Topics: Lean, Leadership, Daily Lean Management

Which Lean Manufacturing Tools Can Improvement Software Enhance?

Posted by Jake Sussman

May 22, 2019 12:39:31 PM

One of the reasons that the Lean manufacturing business methodology is so popular with companies in every industry is that it comes complete with a set of tools for structuring and managing the goal of continuous improvement and waste reduction. These tools are great on their own, but many of them become even more valuable when improvement management software is used as a single platform for managing positive change. This post examines some of the most often used.

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Topics: Lean, Software, Daily Lean Management, Continuous Improvement Software

The Lean Manufacturing Cheat Sheet

Posted by Lisa Hanna

Apr 30, 2019 8:34:00 AM

I created dozens of cheat sheets during my high school and college career. Don’t worry; I didn’t use them to cheat on the test. I found that the exercise of creating a crib card helped me review the relevant material and organize my thoughts, so when it was time for the exam, I was well prepared to do well without resorting to fraud. Anything that I would want to put on the sheet was something that I should fully understand.

You might not “test” your employees on the essential concepts in Lean manufacturing, but there are still some fundamental ideas that they should understand. We’ve put together this brief review of the most important as a place to start. If every team member can discuss and explain each of them, your potential for improvement is vast.

(Note, this post is meant to be a refresher, not an introduction to any of these concepts. For more in-depth information, click on the links at the top of each section.)

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Topics: Lean, Daily Lean Management

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

What Changes When an Organization Implements a Lean Management System?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 2, 2019 12:59:05 PM

We talk to people who are interested in investing in software to support their continuous improvement efforts every day. Some of them are already using the Lean business methodology, others are just rolling it out, and still others are taking a “Lean light” approach by leveraging some of the principles without adopting all of the techniques. In any case, leaders want to have a good understanding of what to expect and how a Lean management system can help them achieve their goals. Fortunately, we are well positioned to share what our customers have told us happened when they invested in technology to bolster their improvement and waste reduction efforts.

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Topics: Lean, Software, Daily Lean Management, Continuous Improvement Software

An 11 Step Gemba Walk Template for Executive Leaders

Posted by Ryan Rippey

Mar 29, 2019 9:04:00 AM

“We say seeing is believing, but actually, we are much better at believing than seeing. In fact, we are seeing what we believe all the time and occasionally, what we can’t believe.” – Robert Anton Wilson


Gemba walks
are a critical continuous improvement technique. They are useful for leaders at every level but particularly eye-opening for executives and other top-level managers. Why? The simple process of going to the place where works is done, showing respect for workers, asking questions, and reflecting on observations can change one’s perception of how well a process is operating. It also offers an opportunity to build trust and increase employee engagement. Many direct supervisors and mid-level managers practice Gemba walks, especially in Lean organizations, but it is important for executives to do them as well. That’s why we’ve put together this Gemba walk template for executives. It addresses elements that would be less important to managers who are closer to the process daily.

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Topics: Lean, Daily Lean Management, Gemba Walk

What Other Industries Have Learned from Lean Manufacturing

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Mar 26, 2019 7:11:00 AM

Lean manufacturing is a business methodology that is based on tools and techniques implemented at Toyota in their post-WWII efforts to improve the quality of its automobiles. They called it simply "The Toyota Production System" and “The Toyota Way.” Other manufacturers recognized the success the company enjoyed and applied the approach. Visits to Toyota to observe Lean manufacturing in action are common to this day.

The beauty of Lean is that it can be applied to almost any type of organization. Its pillars of continuous improvement and respect for people are universally relevant. Today, Lean is used in healthcare, high-technology, construction, education, services, and government.

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Topics: Lean, Daily Lean Management

21 Questions to Help You Apply the Principles of Lean Management

Posted by Clint Corley

Feb 20, 2019 11:03:10 AM

We’ve written before about how the Lean management approach is prevalent in almost every industry. That’s because its twin pillars of continuous improvement and respect for people make sense in every sector. Supporting those pillars are the five principles of Lean. This post takes a closer look at each of them and will give you some questions to ask yourself that will help you find how best to apply them in your organization.

Value

Value is defined as anything that the customer wants and will pay for. Only the customer gets to decide what represents value. Successful companies are those that provide value more efficiently than the competition. Because Lean organizations have value as a first principle, they are necessarily customer-centric.

How do you know if your organization is living the principle of value? Ask yourself these questions, and the answer to that should be clear.

  • How do I know what the customer values?
  • Is customer value a daily topic of discussion?
  • Does customer value drive decisions?
  • Is what the customer values static or does it change?
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Topics: Lean, Daily Lean Management

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