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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement

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What I Learned by Leaving Toyota

Posted by Clint Corley

Nov 19, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Our 2019 KaiNexicon event in Austin was a tremendous success, thanks to all of our fabulous participants and speakers. Lots of valuable information was shared, and long-term connections formed.

The event kicked off with a Keynote from Jess Orr of WestRock Company. This post is a recap of her presentation. We invite you to watch the video as well.

Jess Orr is a continuous improvement manager with over 12 years of experience working in a variety of industries. Her approach has been greatly influenced by the time she spent working directly for Toyota in Georgetown, KY. Jess focuses on equipping and guiding people in the application of improvement principles and practices to elevate the performance of their organizations.

 


Jess shared that she worked for Toyota in Georgetown, Kentucky, for several years. Her experience of working there was utterly transformative, both personally and professionally. Due to some personal circumstances, she had to leave Toyota about four years ago, which was a difficult thing to do. Although it was devastating at the time, in hindsight, Jess believes it is one of the best things that ever happened to her.

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Topics: Kaizen, Improvement Culture, Spread Continuous Improvement, KaiNexus User Conference

Fundamental Skills Every Project Manager Must Master

Posted by Jake Sussman

Nov 18, 2019 1:25:13 PM

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a global nonprofit professional organization for project management. They wrote the book on project management. Literally. It's called the Project Management Body of Knowledge, and it has become the standard by which PMP (Project Management Professional) certification through PMI is obtained.

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Topics: Leadership, Improvement Culture, PPM

4 Big Improvement Ideas to Set the Stage for Success in 2020

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 7, 2019 9:13:47 AM

It seems like every year goes by faster than the last. I keep making plans to work on my summer tan, and suddenly, it's November. The holidays will be upon us before we know it and then – boom! We're in a brand-new decade.

Before things get too crazy, this is an excellent time to think about how you can set your team up for outstanding results in 2020. It won't surprise you to hear us say it, but making just some small adjustments in your leadership approach can have an enormous impact. Here are four improvement ideas to consider in the new year.

Take Strategic Planning to the Next Level

Most organizations go through some sort of strategic planning exercise for each new year, but few can execute the strategy successfully. That's because the strategy is planned but not fully deployed. It doesn't become part of daily conversations or activities. Perhaps the revenue targets are well understood and receive frequent attention, but what about everything else.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Improvement Culture, Improvement Process

Beyond the Problem – Bonus Benefits of Kaizen Events

Posted by Noah Paratore

Oct 21, 2019 2:08:00 PM

Kaizen events, sometimes called rapid improvement events, are an effective way of solving difficult challenges within organizations. A team of stakeholders and subject matter experts takes a few days away from regular order to focus on improving a process. Because the effort is concentrated, root causes can be identified, and potential fixes implemented in short order. The obvious goal of a Kaizen event is to solve the issue at hand, usually defined in a project charter.

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Topics: Kaizen, Employee Engagement, Improvement Culture, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

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

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