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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement


The Intersection of Culture & Technology [Webinar Preview]

Posted by Kade Jansson

Mar 13, 2017 1:34:55 PM

If the amazing insights Matthew Cannistraro shared with listeners in the KaiNexus webinar The Intersection of Culture and Technology: Capturing Improvement Where it Happens could be summed up in a few words, it would be that technology influences results.

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Matthew Cannistraro is an Operations Analyst in the Sheet Metal Group at JC Cannistraro. He was joined by KaiNexus Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services and founder of LeanBlog.org Mark Graban, who hosted the webinar.

JC Cannistraro is a mechanical contractor who designs, fabricates and installs different systems for commercial buildings in Boston, with a specialization in hospitals and labs. It is a family business that has been transformed by technology.

“I think that that’s really important to understand, that like most organizations today, technology is a core part of all of our work flows. From design to installation, it’s a tool that everybody uses. And that is a really important part about how we use KaiNexus and how are improvement culture functions,” Cannistraro said.

Technology transformed them into a learning organization and allowed them to bring in young faces and to invite young students in co-operation programs, some of whom grew into leadership positions.

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Before they started using KaiNexus, JC Cannistraro used their own internal continuous improvement program, in which they tracked improvements with Google Sheets, but at some point this program went dead, flatlining in the number of improvements adopted over time. To combat this, they started using 5S training to make new improvements. Cannistraro stressed that the important thing 5S gave their teams a shared understanding of what they tried to improve, which in turn allowed them to see more opportunities for improvement. In fact, the result was too many opportunities to manage and soon a better solution was needed.

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Topics: Improvement Culture, Continuous Improvement Software, Webinars

5 Ways to Strengthen a Kaizen Culture

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Jan 10, 2017 1:26:23 PM

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “culture” as, “The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization; the characteristic features of everyday existence shared by people in a place or time.” Organizations interested in achieving continuous improvement through the practice of Kaizen could do no better than to make it a “characteristic feature of everyday existence.” That requires building and maintaining a Kaizen Culture.

There’s another interesting thing about the definition of the word culture. It shares a root with the word “cultivate,” which means, “to foster the growth of; to improve by labor, care, or study.” Cultivation requires intent, action, and attention. Kaizen culture does as well.

There are a number of things that successful leaders do to instill a Kaizen culture and keep it healthy.

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Topics: Kaizen, Improvement Culture

The Key to Successful Process Improvement

Posted by Henry Schneider

Nov 30, 2016 8:12:00 AM

The key to successful process improvement and change is commitment from management at all levels in the organization.

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Topics: Leadership, Improvement Culture

Are the Steps for Sustaining Improvement the Same for Everyone?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 23, 2016 10:34:47 AM

The Harvard Business Review published an article called "4 Steps to Sustaining Improvement in Health Care" last week that walks through what exactly makes some organizations successful in long-term improvement initiatives. The information in this article is based on research done by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement on organizations that not only achieved significant results through continuous improvement but were also able to sustain them. In short, they learned that the key is to find a way to engage and standardize the processes of managers on the front lines.

Lean in the healthcare industry is comparatively new, having first made an appearance in 1995 (over 50 years after Toyota began using it in manufacturing automobiles). Hundreds of hospitals and healthcare systems are now recognizing that they can reduce cost, increase safety, and improve patient and staff satisfaction using the Lean improvement methodology, but many still find it difficult to transform their organizations in this way.

The "stickiness" of a cultural transformation depends on your ability to get started, spread it throughout the organization, and sustain your efforts. This HBR article focuses exclusively on healthcare, but the principles it outlines apply to any company, in any industry. Lean is universal, folks. Let's walk through the article and talk about how it applies to your business.

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Topics: Improvement Culture

Thoughts on 3 Problems with Top-Down Teams in an Improvement Culture

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 3, 2016 9:30:00 AM

Our VP of Sales sent me an email this morning regarding a Stanford Business article he found by Luke Stangel entitled “Three Problems with Top-Down Teams (and How to Fix Them).” The body of his email was simply “Thought this was interesting, given what we do.”

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Topics: Leadership, Improvement Culture

4 Strategies for Getting People to Embrace a New Continuous Improvement Software Platform

Posted by Matt Banna

Oct 13, 2016 9:02:00 AM

Introducing a new technology platform to your staff for any business function is a daunting task, and continuous improvement software is no different. As soon as you announce that you’re bringing in a new platform, people start to worry about having to learn how to use it and how much time it’s going to add to their day. When you really think about it, that’s a pretty fair concern and goes a long way toward explaining organizational resistance to change.

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Topics: Leadership, Software, Improvement Culture

How to Avoid Over-Burdening Your Managers in a New Improvement Culture

Posted by Matt Banna

Oct 4, 2016 11:06:13 AM

The implementation of a continuous improvement program is a difficult, never-ending process that is dependent on the level of buy-in you’re able to attain at all levels of the organization from the front lines to senior leadership. We’ve written a lot on the common pitfalls encountered when rolling out a new improvement program, many of which relate to getting staff to buy into the new philosophy and adapt their work flows to incorporate improvement. It isn’t just the staff that need to be persuaded, though; the engagement of managers is critical in getting your new improvement culture off the ground.

The number one thing you need to do when sharing your improvement plans with managers is to make it clear that the changes will not place an extraordinary burden on them. You know that they’re already incredibly busy with their daily tasks, and if you present continuous improvement as one more task for them to take on, you’re sure to get some push back. When they’re already swamped with managing employee duties, keeping track of supplies, and meeting with their senior leaders and employees, expecting them to implement the ideas of their employees is not a reasonable demand.

So what can you do?

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Topics: Improvement Culture

The Role of Continuous Improvement in Environmental Responsibility

Posted by Matt Banna

Jul 14, 2016 7:00:00 AM

Reducing environmental waste and shrinking a company’s carbon footprint are not easy tasks. Nonetheless, environmental improvements are critical to a company’s growth and strategic expansion. The benefits of being “environmentally friendly” reach beyond simple governmental compliance or public perception.

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Topics: Improvement Culture, Continuous Improvement Software

How’s Your Suggestion Box Working Out for You?

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jul 11, 2016 9:55:16 AM

If you are delighted with the results you are getting from your suggestion box approach to finding employee ideas for improvement, congratulations! You are a unicorn.

If you are like most organizations, however, you’ve had only lackluster results and few real improvements as a result of your suggestion box. It’s not your fault. It’s the approach that’s flawed, not you or your employees.

Here’s why.


It only does one thing and it’s not very good at that.

A suggestion box is a way to gather employee ideas for improvement. If you have a physical suggestion box hanging on the wall somewhere, think about the barriers to submitting an idea. The employee must be in the office, with a pen, and a piece of paper, and have the time and inclination to mosey over and drop in their thoughts. An electronic suggestion box certainly makes it easier but falls victim to the other flaws noted below. Collecting employee ideas for improvement is an important thing to do, but it is only the first step.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems, Improvement Culture

A Call For a Fundamental Change to Our Medical Culture

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 8, 2016 11:00:41 AM

Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to John Hopkins Researchers. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine referred to preventable deaths resulting from medical errors as an epidemic, and now, the IOM estimates that we lose nearly 100,000 people per year in the United States to medical errors, to the tune of $17-29 billion per year in cost to hospitals.

We all know this to some degree - that hospitals make mistakes, that people die unnecessarily - but the fact remains, that “health care is a decade or more behind many other high-risk industries in its attention to ensuring basic safety.” To understand why, we need to dive into understanding our medical culture.

Dr. Brian Goldman, veteran ER physician and host of the CBC radio show White Coat, Black Art, provides a compelling answer in his 2012 TED Talk.

“When I talk to medical students today, many of them have this look in their eyes - that they’re pristine. They’ve never made a mistake, they never will. Of course, until it happens.”

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Topics: Improvement Culture