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How to Have Better Team Huddles

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 25, 2018 8:12:00 AM

We recently had a chat with a potential client in a healthcare organization that has been doing daily team huddles for years. She has been frustrated by the lack of tangible results and the apparent disinterest of her team. People show up (unless they can find any reasonable excuse not to), but it is clear that the huddle is just one thing to check off the list each day, rather than a valuable exercise. She asked how to make the practice more useful and here’s what we recommended.

Set a Firm Time Limit

Daily huddle meetings are meant to be extremely focused and quick affairs. If you have the right measurements and technology in place (more on that in a minute), 15 minutes should be sufficient. That means that everyone will need to think ahead about what is important to discuss and stick to the most relevant topics for discussion. Keeping meetings quick makes them less burdensome and allows employees to schedule their day around them.

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Topics: Visual Management, Daily Lean Management, Improvement Process

What to Include in Your Kaizen Event Charter

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 21, 2018 7:45:00 AM

We recently had a conversation with a client who has been through a few too many failed Kaizen events. The team was unorganized, not well supported, and unable to obtain the desired results. When we dug in a bit more to try to figure out why, we learned that although there was a Charter document created for the event, it was incomplete and insufficient to serve as a guide for the team. We’re putting this post together to help this client and anyone else who might be new to Kaizen events or struggling to find success.

There are many ways you can layout your charter. Some organizations use templates that organize all of the information onto one page often in Excel, while others just use a simple document. The form isn’t as important as the content. It is also essential that the document is stored in your improvement management system so that it can be referenced in the future. Here are the elements it should include:

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Topics: Kaizen, Improvement Process

The Best and Worst Practices for Crowdsourcing Innovation

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 8, 2018 11:55:36 AM

We’ve written before about why internally crowdsourcing innovation is such a hot trend in business. (Actually, we don’t think it’s a trend at all. We believe it is a new way of approaching problem solving that is here to stay.)

While the benefits of the approach are compelling in terms of increased employee engagement, better products, less waste, and happier customers, success isn’t guaranteed.

There are some best practices that will amp up your results and a few behaviors that will hurt your efforts.

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Topics: Innovation Software, Improvement Process

Best Practices for Standard Work Documentation

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 5, 2018 8:11:00 AM

In his book, Standardized Work with TWI: Eliminating Human Errors in Production and Service Processes, Bartosz Misiurek writes, “Standard work is a process where you describe the best way of performing a given operation, improve this way, and train operators on it. As simple as it is to summarize, it is not as easy as it seems to execute.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why even though most leaders agree that process standardization is essential for producing quality, predictable results, when you pull back the covers, many organizations do not have standard work documented at all or have poor processes in place for keeping it accurate and up to date. That’s a shame because, without a solid foundation upon which to build and measure, improvement is elusive. We work with companies every day that have been through the process of implementing and socializing standard work. This post contains the best advice for standard work documentation that provides substantial value.

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Topics: Improvement Methodology, Improvement Process, Daily Lean Management

An Overview of A3 Management

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jun 21, 2018 3:16:56 PM

Whether you’ve read a ton about various business methodologies and the philosophy of continuous improvement, or just a little bit, you can’t be blamed if you’ve started to wonder if Toyota developed every improvement technique.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Methodology, Improvement Process

10 Ways to Build a Culture that Supports CQI

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 30, 2018 9:42:19 AM

The dictionary defines corporate culture as, “The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” Every organization has a culture whether or not leaders think about it or try to shape it. But smart executives know that culture is a crucial (if not the most important) ingredient for success. Leaders who are dedicated to the practice of continuous quality improvement (CQI) should understand the role that culture plays and actively work to shape it. Here are ten best practices for creating a culture in which CQI can thrive.

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Topics: Quality, Improvement Process, Improvement Culture

Common Questions About the DMAIC Improvement Cycle

Posted by Jeff Roussel

May 23, 2018 8:11:00 AM

DMAIC is said to be the Six Sigma methodology’s roadmap to improvement. It is one of the core tools of the approach, but organizations also use it as a standalone improvement technique. We have clients in almost every industry from healthcare to construction who have achieved quantifiable impact against core business metrics by using this technique. Here are some of the questions we get asked about it most often.

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Topics: DMAIC, Six Sigma, Improvement Process

Why You Need to At Least Consider a Digital Kanban Board

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 22, 2018 1:35:26 PM

The Kanban technique started in the late 1940’s as Toyota looked to rethink its approach to manufacturing. The object was to reduce waste, improve efficiency and enable what’s come to be known as just-in-time manufacturing. Toyota’s workers displayed colorful Kanban cards to communicate to downstream workers that there was a demand for parts. (Kanban means “visual signal” or “shopkeepers card” in Japanese.) This visual management approach helped teams communicate instantly about what needed to be done and when.

Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that the Kanban approach has evolved to be useful for information workers and others in a variety of industries. The most common application is a physical board that shows work that is in the queue, in-progress, and completed. A physical Kanban board works great for small, centrally located teams with a limited number of projects in play at any one time. However, more complex groups which are distributed and organizations that want a centralized view of all improvement work have turned to digital Kanban boards instead. Here are a few benefits of the approach.

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Topics: Kanban, Improvement Process

How to Share Standard Work

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 19, 2018 11:22:06 AM

Standard Work is one of the bedrock elements of continuous improvement. In fact, Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System, once said, “Without Standard Work, there is no Kaizen [positive change].”

Unfortunately, we’ve seen many organizations create a Standard Work document, check the box, and move on to business as usual.

This does little to stabilize processes or prepare for the next improvement. In order for Standard Work to be effective, it must be widely shared and actively managed.

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Topics: Lean, Continuous Improvement Software, Improvement Culture, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

8 Sure Fire Ways to Ruin a Kaizen Event

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jan 10, 2018 6:51:00 AM

Kaizen events, also known as Rapid Improvement Events, are an effective way to tackle many difficult problems in short order. They can also help improve team cohesion and cross-functional collaboration. But like many other continuous improvement techniques, if they are not executed properly, they can cause more harm than good. We’re in the lucky position to have the opportunity to chat with people from all types of organizations about their improvement work. They’ve shared some lessons learned when it comes to Kaizen events. Here are some of the biggest mistakes.

Ignoring Daily Improvement

Kaizen events are one tool in the improvement toolbox, but not the only one. Continuous improvement requires daily attention. Efforts shouldn’t be limited to special events. In most cases, only a few people are involved in each Kaizen event, but daily improvement should be the responsibility of every person in the organization.

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Topics: Kaizen, Improvement Methodology, Improvement Process

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