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KaiNexus Blog

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The Interviewer’s Guide to Hiring for a Kaizen Culture

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jun 16, 2020 9:30:00 AM

Organizations that practice kaizen work hard to maintain a culture centered around continuous improvement. The best defense against push back and poor engagement is hiring only those employees who are likely to thrive in a culture of positive change.

Ideally, the conversation about continuous improvement will begin the moment a candidate is considered. Talking about the principles of kaizen during the interview will show the potential hire how important it is to the organization. The right questions can help you identify those who will do well in your organization and those who should look elsewhere.

Here are a few questions that will give you insight into how the candidate thinks.

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Topics: Kaizen, Improvement Culture

4 Principles of Kanban

Posted by Jeff Roussel

May 5, 2020 6:02:25 PM

We tend to think of just-in-time manufacturing as a relatively new concept. Dell builds your PC when you order it but does it quickly, so you are satisfied with the speed of delivery. Plus, Dell never has excess PC inventory on its hands. However, the idea is not new at all. In the 1940’s, Toyota began applying the principal to its production lines after taking a lesson from an unexpected place: the grocery store.

Shopping for Parts

Although situations at grocery stores are a little different now with the COVID-19 pandemic, the grocery store metaphor can still help breakdown the idea of Kanban (pronounced kahn-bahn).

When you go to the grocery store, it's rare to find an empty shelf. In the rare times you do, the shelves don’t stay empty for long. The reason is that the store has both the inventory on the shelf and some inventory in their own on-site warehouse. Grocery stores don’t want to stock more of an item than will be sold in a short enough time to ensure that the items are fresh and to reduce inventory costs. So, when a shelf is depleted, it is refilled from the on-site inventory and only then are new items ordered from the manufacturer to replace the warehouse products. This process is efficient and cost-effective for the store, and also reassuring to customers who can buy only what they need without fear of a future shortage of a favored product.

Toyota realized that the same principal would work for items needed on its manufacturing floor. They further enhanced the idea by adding Kanban cards, which served as a visual signal of the state of inventory. In fact, the word Kanban when translated directly means, "signboard, shopkeeper's in-business sign.” The approach can be applied to any business process, so its use is not limited to the manufacturing of hard goods.

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Topics: Kaizen

Checklist for Planning an Awesome Kaizen Event

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Feb 12, 2020 8:55:43 AM

Kaizen events are an effective tool for harnessing the innovative ideas and creativity of your workforce to implement rapid improvement in a specific area of the organization. In the literature about Kaizen events, a lot of emphasis is put on the event itself, but we have found that often the difference between success and failure is actually the pre-event planning phase. Here are some critical items that should be part of your event preparation.

 

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Topics: Kaizen

Why is Kaizen Such a Popular Name for Sushi Restaurants?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 29, 2019 7:15:00 AM

The Sacramento area is home to a small chain of sushi restaurants called Mikuni. The downtown location is a favorite of politicians and lobbyists. When they opened up the newest location in Roseville, they gave it a new name, "Mikuni Kaizen." They explained, "The Japanese word "kaizen," which translates to "continuous improvement," truly reflects the concept behind this Mikuni location. While the menu features a host of exquisite sushi rolls made popular at the restaurant's other locations, it is also highlighted by an extensive selection of small plates and tapas-style dishes- each more exciting and compelling than the next."

Of course, seeing this on a recent visit piqued my interest. It isn't common to find continuous improvement related terms out in the wild, so it stuck with me. It turns out that the idea of applying the principles of kaizen to sushi (or vice versa) is not as novel as I thought. A quick Google search revealed that there are lots of sushi restaurants with kaizen in the name.

In addition to Roseville's Mikuni Kaizen, you could enjoy:

  • Kaizen Campbell in Campbell, CA
  • Kaizen Sushi Bar & Grill in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Kaizen Sushi in San Francisco, CA
  • Kaizen Tavern in Alexandria, VA

And those are just the ones that made the first page of Google.

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Topics: Kaizen

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

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

A Quick Guide to the Kaizen Methodology

Posted by Clint Corley

Aug 26, 2019 12:17:22 PM

If you are exploring ways to make your organization more efficient and better at sustaining continuous improvement, you may have come across references to the Kaizen Methodology. Masaaki Imai introduced the Kaizen Methodology to the world in 1986 in his book Kaizen, The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success. We recommend giving it a read along with several other titles that we’ll share at the end of this post. Our goal today is to provide you with the basics of the Kaizen Methodology and hopefully leave you wanting to learn more.

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Topics: Kaizen

Kaizen and the Art of Kintsugi: Redefining Perfection

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 21, 2019 1:05:48 PM

As regular readers of this blog know, many of the ideas and practices that guide the modern continuous improvement movement have their origins in Japanese philosophy and culture. Today’s leaders talk about kaizen (improvement), hoshin kanri (direction setting), and kanban (visual management) regularly. Recently, while scrolling through my Instagram feed of all things, I was struck by another Japanese concept that deserves some thought in the business context as well – the art of Kintsugi.

Kintsugi which translates to “golden journey” and is also known as Kintsukurio (golden repair) is the art of repairing broken pottery by joining the broken pieces with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. No attempt is made to hide the repair; in fact, the technique highlights it. The repair becomes part of the history of the object. The object is not beautiful despite the fact that it was broken, it is more beautiful because it was broken.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Kaizen

6 Things People Need to Hear About Kaizen Events

Posted by Jake Sussman

Jul 5, 2019 11:50:49 AM

With more and more companies in almost every industry adopting the Lean management approach or at least taking a few pages from it, Kaizen events are more popular than ever. That’s wonderful because they can be a very useful tool for improving processes and teaching leadership. But, unfortunately, we’ve seen too many instances of organizations that try to cut corners or fail to understand the best way to utilize Kaizen events. It would be nice if they were as easy as getting a few folks in a room for a couple of days and – presto – problem solved.

Sadly, that’s not how it works. We hate to burst the bubble, but Kaizen events require planning, leadership, and precise application. Here is the truth about successful rapid improvement events, whether folks want to hear it or not.

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Topics: Lean, Kaizen

Hints for Creating a Kaizen Training Plan

Posted by Clint Corley

Jun 24, 2019 7:56:00 AM

I might have written here before that Kaizen isn’t really a thing you do; it’s a way of thinking that leads you to do a bunch of things differently. Every leader wants an army of employees who are always on the lookout for an opportunity to create positive change. Organizations thrive when every person is accountable for innovation and improvement. But the Kaizen mindset isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. Some people have worked in cultures of strict top-down management where employee ideas are not welcome and doing what you were told to do is all anyone expects. That’s why Kaizen training is so important.

Here are our best tips on creating a Kaizen training plan that will work for your team.

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Topics: Kaizen

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