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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement

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The Art of Asking Good Coaching Questions

Posted by Maggie Millard

Dec 4, 2019 7:09:00 AM

Today we are bringing you another recap of a presentation from the 2019 KaiNexicon event. We were delighted to draw together leaders and change agents from a wide variety of organizations to pool our collective wisdom and get better at getting better.

We were thrilled that Jamie V. Parker agreed to participate. Jamie is on a mission to make the world of work more human. She's a trainer, speaker, and mentor with over 17 hears of multi-unit operations management in manufacturing, retail, and service environments.

We received so much great feedback about her presentation that we wanted to do a recap for anyone who missed it. Of course, you can watch the video here, if you prefer.

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Topics: Leadership

Did Microsoft Hack Employee Productivity with a 4 Day Work Week?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 25, 2019 8:00:00 AM

By now, you’ve probably heard of Microsoft’s experiment with a four day work week in Japan. The trial program, which saw offices closed every Friday during August, was part of Microsoft’s “Work-Life Choice Challenge,” a summer project set up to look at work-life balance and help find ways to boost creativity and productivity.

The results were pretty amazing. Productivity increased by 39.9% versus the same period in 2018. Not only was productivity improved, but also the number of printed pages in the office dropped by 59%, and electricity consumption was down 23%.

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Topics: Leadership, Employee Engagement

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

10 Leadership Behaviors that Promote Operational Excellence

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 25, 2019 10:42:50 AM

Operational excellence happens when an organization consistently and reliably outperforms the competition through constant improvement and a dedication to customer value. When two companies have the same strategy, the operationally excellent company will have higher revenues, lower cost, and less risk. This type of execution is only possible with a combination of outstanding leadership and a culture that supports problem-solving and transparency.

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Topics: Leadership, Operational Excellence

The Lean Linchpin: Middle Managers

Posted by Jake Sussman

Jul 29, 2019 3:07:21 PM

A linchpin is a fastener passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position. The term is also used figuratively, according to Wikipedia, to describe, “something [or someone] that holds the various elements of a complicated structure together.” What an apt description of the role of middle managers in a Lean environment.

When we talk about the Lean business management approach or just continuous improvement in general, we often say that it involves everyone from the CEO to front line workers. In the literature about Lean, a lot of emphasis is put on what top leaders need to do to create a culture of improvement. There’s also much discussion about how to keep operational workers involved and engaged. Both are essential, but it is a huge mistake to underestimate the role of middle management.

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Topics: Lean, Leadership, Daily Lean Management

#TargetDown is an Opportunity for Improvement

Posted by Amber Newman

Jun 17, 2019 12:14:11 PM

I guess I picked a bad day to go to Target. I kind of knew it was a bad day to go to Target because it was a Saturday and the day before Father’s Day. I didn’t know it would be a really, really bad day to go to Target - an all systems are down sort of day. But it was.

Target’s inability (or near inability by some accounts) to process customer transactions for about two hours last Saturday represented a mild-to-moderate inconvenience for me, requiring two trips that took way longer than they should have to purchase my husband’s Father’s Day present. (It’s a bike. He loves it.) Of course, for the employees of Target, the inconvenience was way more than moderate.

One can only speculate about how much revenue, not to mention goodwill, was lost during the outage. As it does, the Twitterverse had a heyday making fun of the situation. Rivals Walmart and Amazon no doubt got a boost, and I suspect there was a spike in shrinkage. (Retail-speak for theft.) And although the company was quick to state that the problem was not a hack or data breach, Target’s already marred reputation for data integrity certainly was not helped.

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Topics: Leadership, HRO

Kaizen Program Management – The Fundamentals

Posted by Kade Jansson

Jun 7, 2019 7:32:00 AM

For many years, the continuous improvement philosophy of Kaizen was most closely associated with industrial manufacturing and high technology. That’s because it was developed by the Japanese auto industry and then later adopted by technology companies like GE and Motorola.

But if you’ve been hearing about Kaizen program management in other sectors over the last few years, you are not alone.

The principals of Kaizen apply to almost every industry and are now widespread in healthcare, construction, software development, education, logistics, and everything in between.

We can’t teach you everything you need to know in one blog post, but we can lay out the fundamentals of Kaizen program management and offer further reading recommendations.

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Topics: Kaizen, Leadership, Improvement Methodology

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

Kaizen Process - Roles and Responsibilities

Posted by Kade Jansson

May 10, 2019 7:42:00 AM

The Kaizen process is a brilliantly simple approach to business operations. Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “good change.” The methodology is credited with helping the Japanese auto industry recover and outpace the competition following World War II. Organizations that embrace it can reduce errors and defects, speed up production, deliver more customer value, and improve employee satisfaction.

When the Kaizen process is implemented, every person in the organization has a role to play. Before we describe them, let’s revisit the philosophy of Kaizen.

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Topics: Kaizen, Leadership

What is Leader Standard Work?

Posted by Matt Banna

Feb 21, 2019 8:42:00 AM

Standard work is the documented and current best way to do a particular task, procedure or process. Workers develop the standard and follow it until an improvement process results in a new standard. Standard work ensures that results are consistent and forms the foundation upon which improvements are made. Leader standard work applies this same concept to the task of driving Lean thinking and behavior throughout the organization.

Many organizations have little in the way of documented best practices for leaders. Supervisors, managers, and directors are left with only their job description to guide their daily activities. Given this reality, it's not surprising that many fail to start, spread, and sustain the continuous improvement mindset.

The alternative is leader standard work which is a set of actions, tools, and behaviors that are incorporated into the daily activities of leaders at all levels. Like the standard work for any process, leader standard work must be documented, practiced consistently, and changed only with reflection and experimentation.

Although the specifics of leader standard work vary across organizations, some practices are universally useful and commonly included.

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Topics: Lean, Leadership

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