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KaiNexus Blog

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Should Lean Tools Be Used for Every Improvement?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 14, 2019 10:11:31 AM


When I first saw this tweet from our resident Lean and Six Sigma expert and author, Mark Graban, I thought that he made an excellent point. Sometimes we get caught up in all of the sophisticated improvement tools at our disposal like value stream maps, Kaizen events, A3s, heck, even continuous improvement software that we fail to make or adequately recognize small improvements that don’t require tools.

But when I reread it, I was struck by the line, “This small improvement didn’t require a belt, root cause analysis, or a project champion.” Nope. Recognizing that the speakers were not in the ideal location and finding a way to solve that problem didn’t require any fancy techniques at all.

But what did it require? There are some prerequisites that are necessary to make even a simple improvement like this one possible.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Culture

High Reliability Culture – The Not-so-Secret Sauce

Posted by Matt Banna

Sep 27, 2019 8:32:00 AM

Before I spent a lot of time learning, thinking, and writing about how businesses operate and what separates those that successfully achieve their mission and those that don’t, I took a lot of things for granted. I never worried that my plane would crash, I wasn’t afraid that the power plant near my house would explode, nor was I concerned that the aircraft carrier my neighbor’s son calls home would come to harm. Sure, all of those adverse events do occur, but they are so rare that most of us just don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them.

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Topics: HRO, Improvement Culture

French Fries and the Culture Imperative

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 8, 2019 8:32:00 AM

“Culture isn’t just on aspect of the game – it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.” Lou Gerstner Jr. – IBM.

These days it is a little bit embarrassing to admit that I eat fast food from time to time, but there you have it. I like French fries, and I cannot lie. And as everyone knows, McDonald's French fries are objectively the best. One of the founding principles of McDonald’s was that the food would taste the same no matter which location you visit. I’d say they have generally achieved this aim even though most locations are franchises run by hundreds of different owners across the country.

But while the food is relatively consistent, the quality of customer service is not. The employees from one McDonalds to another are paid about the same. The employees come from the same labor market. The functional job requirements are the same. So why do some locations operate efficiently with friendly and engaged employees, while others have workers who are indifferent?

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Topics: Improvement Culture, Operational Excellence

When Being Right is the Wrong Strategy for Change

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 16, 2019 8:32:00 AM

Frequent readers of this blog are probably familiar with Mark Graban. Mark has been an enormous contributor to the ideological foundation of the KaiNexus continuous improvement software.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, Mark is an internationally-recognized expert in the field of “Lean Healthcare” and the author of LeanBlog.org and author of the Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award-winning book Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement.

His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, is a management book about using simple, yet practical statistical methods that help leaders at all levels overreact less to their metrics, which frees up time for real, focused, sustainable improvement.

Mark joined us for a recent KaiNexus user group in Austin to share with the audience his thoughts on why being right isn’t always the best strategy for change. This post is a recap of the presentation, but we promise its worth your time to watch the whole thing.

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Topics: Leadership, Employee Engagement, Improvement Culture

What it Takes to Improve Workplace Culture

Posted by Maggie Millard

Feb 27, 2019 7:32:00 AM

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” – Peter Drucker

We’re not going to lie. Improving workplace culture is hard. A healthy culture can’t be bought, and it can’t be mandated. Every company has a culture. Great ones are earned.

Whether your culture is toxic, or you just want to find ways to lift it up, this post is about why and how to transform what equates to the DNA of your organization.

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Topics: Improvement Culture

What it Takes to Achieve Operational Excellence

Posted by Lisa Hanna

Feb 12, 2019 8:17:00 AM

No executive in the world would turn down operational excellence if you handed it to them on a platter even if they don’t exactly know what it is. It just sounds like something awesome. But operational excellence isn’t like an hors d'oeuvre you can pluck off a tray. In order to be achieved, it must be clearly understood, injected into the culture, and supported with a methodology to guide decisions. The principles of excellence must become ingrained in everyday activities. Getting there isn’t easy, but it is operationally excellent companies that can achieve rapid growth and sustain a leading market position.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Culture, Strategy Deployment, Operational Excellence

Resolutions to Help Achieve Your Process Improvement Goals in 2019

Posted by Kade Jansson

Jan 14, 2019 10:38:48 AM

We saved this post for a couple of weeks into the New Year to give everyone a chance to get their exercise/weight loss/financial planning resolutions out of the way. Hope it’s all going well - but 98.9% of all New Year’s resolutions fail by February.

Ha, just kidding, I just made that up. But it rings true doesn’t it?!?

Why is changing habits so hard?

Certainly, unrealistic expectations are part of the problem. (You’re not going to lose 57 pounds by Marcia’s wedding in March.) But another part of the problem is that people focus on the “what” far more than the “why” and “how.”

That’s why we are going to focus on exactly why these resolutions will help you achieve your process improvement goals and how you can do it. These are a few simple, achievable, and measurable steps you can take to make 2019 a breakthrough year for continuous improvement.

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Topics: Improvement Culture, Spread Continuous Improvement, Improvement Process

How Digital Idea Boards Accelerate Innovation

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 16, 2018 4:31:20 PM

We’ve written before about the reasons that traditional suggestion boxes rarely result in lasting positive change. The biggest problem is that they are just a passive receptacle for employee ideas without any structure for ensuring that every suggestion is evaluated and many are implemented. Fortunately, there is a modern alternative that is helping companies in every industry achieve continuous daily improvement and even a few breakthrough ideas. Digital idea boards are the ideal alternative to suggestion boxes or improvement spreadsheets.

Here’s how they make innovation happen faster.

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Topics: Innovation Software, Suggestion Systems, Daily Lean Management, Improvement Culture, Spread Continuous Improvement, Continuous Improvement Software

How to Spread the Kaizen Mindset

Posted by Clint Corley

Sep 12, 2018 12:45:00 PM


One of the most significant challenges leaders face when they embrace the Kaizen culture of continuous improvement is getting the philosophy to take hold and become part of the DNA of the organization. We often see small bright spots where Kaizen is clearly working, but other departments or teams that have not yet put continuous improvement to work.

To shed some light on how to spread the Kaizen mindset, we’ve looked to some of the most successful leaders in business.

Here is what they suggest.

Respect and Empower People

Showing respect for people is one of the fundamental principles of Kaizen. Respect fosters improvement by reinforcing for each team member that their input is valued and that management is interested in creating the conditions required for everyone to do their best work.

“People are entitled to joy in their work and a sense of ownership.”

W. Edwards Deming

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Topics: Kaizen, Improvement Culture

6 Reasons Organizations Fail to Achieve Continuous Improvement Goals

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Aug 23, 2018 7:32:00 AM

We like to keep things positive in this blog, but once in a while, it makes sense to explore the roadblocks that organizations can face when trying to achieve continuous improvement. Recently, we’ve spoken to a few leaders who are disappointed with the results of their organization’s CI efforts. A quick triage of their continuous improvement goals usually uncovers one or more of these common mistakes.

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Topics: Improvement Culture, Spread Continuous Improvement

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