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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement

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Meet Some of the Pioneers of Lean Leadership

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 17, 2017 3:51:34 PM

We spend a lot of time in this blog focused on the “what” and “why” of Lean and continuous improvement. Today, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the “who" (and we don't mean the classic band).

The term Lean was first coined by John Krafcik in his 1988 Sloan Management Review article “Triumph of the Lean Production System.”  The approach gained traction after the publication of The Machine That Changed the World, by James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos in 1990.

The term Lean manufacturing may be less than 30 years old, but the thinking that inspired it has been around since the pre-industrial age. The leaders who developed this approach understood the need for continuous improvement and empowered employees. They learned from each other, eventually building our modern approach to business process improvement and management. Here’s some background on a few of the most important contributors to Lean leadership.

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Topics: Lean, Leadership

Previewing How to Coach for Creativity and Service Excellence [Upcoming Webinar]

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 10, 2017 1:03:59 PM

On March 28, KaiNexus will be hosting a webinar with Karyn Ross, who recently published the Shingo Award-winning book The Toyota Way to Service Excellence: Lean Transformation in Service Organizations, which she co-wrote with Jeff Liker. Ross is a purpose-driven consultant and Lean coach, and will be speaking to our own Mark Graban about how to coach for creativity and service excellence. Graban just had a conversation with Ross about what webinar viewers can expect to learn in the webinar, which you can listen to here:

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Topics: Leadership

How to Lead an Improvement Culture without Being a Huge Jerk

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jan 13, 2017 10:52:11 AM

A common mistake companies make when rolling out a new culture of continuous improvement is to fail to provide leadership training to the people leading it. When you're responsible for leading a cultural transformation, there are a lot of unique leadership skills that you need to employ.

You need to be firm and empathetic, have high but reasonable expectations, communicate effectively, be present - the list goes on and on. It's a hard balance to strike, particularly for people who don't have a lot of experience in a leadership position to fall back on. As such, many leaders cave under the pressure and are either too hesitant to be effective or else become huge jerks that no one likes or respects.

Here are some tips for how to be a strong leader without being a jerk:

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Topics: Leadership

The Election And Organizational Improvement: The Lesson We Can Learn

Posted by Mark Jaben

Dec 1, 2016 8:22:00 AM

The pundits, pollsters, and people around the world are confused about the US Presidential election, but maybe we shouldn't be; how the brain operates explains a lot.

Our brain draws a conclusion to make sense of its world. That story is based on an interpretation of its observations filtered through the lens of what I call its sorting criteria - the parameters for success and consequences of failure unique to that circumstance.

The brain hones in on what matters most at the time. What you look for depends on your brain's sorting criteria, so what you ‘see’ is what you look for. This explains why two people might see the same thing so differently.

The brain operates in two contiguous, non-overlapping yet interactive spheres. One contains processing you are aware of - deliberating, analyzing, and what we think of as decision making. Here you compile a spreadsheet of pros and cons. If the decision rests upon ‘running the numbers,’ so to speak, if something costs more or less, or if the number is higher or lower, then the decision can be made here.

But decisions that involve a value judgment between worthwhile but competing options occur outside awareness in the Hidden Brain. Here the sorting criteria are prioritized and applied to craft the story.

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Topics: Leadership

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

The Lean Leadership Essentials

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 9, 2016 11:09:02 AM

The Lean paradigm is not just a set of tools and techniques for structured improvement. It is also a state of mind that brings increasing returns as more people “get” it. It is a shared way of looking at work and understanding the value of improvement. Strong leadership is necessary to build a culture around Lean and spread the way of thinking across the organization. While every leader is different and will bring their own unique talents to the task, there are some Lean leadership essentials that successful leaders share.

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Topics: Lean, Leadership

Can Hippo Leadership Please Be the Next Trend in Business Management?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 7, 2016 8:09:00 AM

Many of you read my post last week about a Stanford Business article regarding problems inherent to top-down teams and how to solve them. At the end, I couldn't help but allude to a story from that article in which a leader shares how he prefers to lead like a hippo. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to write a separate post around this hilarious visual, so here it goes.

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Topics: Leadership

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

Why Your Political Beliefs are Confusing, and How that Applies to Work

Posted by Mark Jaben

Oct 7, 2016 7:58:00 AM

First off, while this blog post may be about the extraordinary election going on in the United States, this is not a partisan plea. Sorry if you were hoping for a suggestion.  Only your brain can make that choice. I’ve talked with a lot of people who are, quite frankly, disgusted with this whole political cycle. For me, though, this has been a fascinating nightly expose of how brains operate.

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Topics: Leadership

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