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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement


No Time for Gemba Walks? Spend More Time On Gemba Walks.

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Aug 10, 2017 7:25:00 AM

In talking with business leaders over the years, we’ve learned that Gemba Walks are a bit like eating better and getting more exercise. Everyone agrees that they are good for you, but many folks don’t get around to them. It isn’t that these leaders are lazy or unmotivated - quite the opposite. They are often busy responding to the crisis of the day and juggling multiple pressing priorities. Gemba Walks get pushed down to the bottom of the list because they aren’t associated with a deadline or urgent deliverable. But in an ironic twist, one of the best ways to ensure that you have time to visit the Gemba is to spend more time visiting the Gemba.

We’ll explain.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Lean

Five Lean Manufacturing Principles You Might Not Know (But Probably Should)

Posted by Matt Banna

Aug 3, 2017 7:02:00 AM

Learning about Lean systems is often exciting and motivating for organizations eager to create sustainable long-term business success. One of the first things we all learn about Lean is that it was created in manufacturing, specifically within Toyota and the automotive industry. But, for those of us in fields outside of manufacturing—healthcare, construction, education, government, software and so on— the excitement of what can be accomplished with Lean sometimes leads us to skip over some of the finer Lean manufacturing principles in lieu of taking action on things with a clearer impact on our organization.

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Topics: Lean

Why Process Control Charts are a Roadmap to Improvement

Posted by Matt Banna

Aug 1, 2017 7:13:00 AM

Organizations that subscribe to the Lean or Six Sigma business methodology, and others that are devoted to continuous improvement, often use a host of visual management tools to achieve consistency and introduce positive change. Kanban, huddle boards, and value stream maps are all very popular and effective. Process control charts are another valuable visual management tool for recognizing and reacting to process variation.

Here are the details about why they are so useful.

Statistical Process Control

It is probably helpful to begin with a definition of process. A process is quite simply anything that gets done. It could be putting gas in your car, filling out a time sheet, delivering source code to QA, or checking in a patient. Each of these activities results in some output. Sometimes it is a product, but often it is a service or a deliverable to the next process. In addition to the result of the process, data is also generated. Statistical process control is the act of using that data to make the process better. The data might be related to timeliness, cost, quality, or quantity.

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Topics: Lean, Change Management, Six Sigma, Improvement Process

Implementing Lean Software? We’ve Got Tips.

Posted by Kade Jansson

Jul 5, 2017 3:36:32 PM

Most people will only be involved in a Lean software implementation once or maybe a few times. We help companies with improvement software deployment every single day. Because we’ve been around the block many times, we’ve seen what leads to success and which mistakes should be avoided at all costs. We’re happy to share what we’ve learned.

Think Beyond Software

This may be an odd thing for a software company to say, but simply providing employees with a platform to manage Lean projects will not guarantee improved business results. The practice of Lean requires a culture that supports continuous improvement, avoids blame, respects employee ideas, and rewards people who contribute to positive change. Without that foundation, it is unlikely that employees will embrace Lean whether they have the tools to do so or not.

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Get Executives Engaged

It is important for leaders to be involved in the roll out of Lean software for a number of reasons. First, their involvement sends a clear signal that the Lean methodology and the tools needed to support it are a high priority for management. Adoption will also be improved if people know that managers are using the Lean solution to make decisions and assess the performance of the organization. When people see and hear leaders referencing data from the system, they will know how it is used and make good decisions about their own inputs.

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Topics: Lean, Continuous Improvement Software

6 Principles of Lean Construction

Posted by Matt Banna

Jul 3, 2017 11:20:00 AM

A growing number of construction firms are embracing the Lean methodology that emphasizes maximizing value for the customer while minimizing waste. The approach is simple and attractive in an industry where budgets, timeframes, and safety are all critical. But the Lean approach to project delivery is very different than traditional construction methods, making proper execution of the philosophy and techniques difficult to implement.

Lean construction borrows from the manufacturing approach developed by Toyota after World War II. Of course, it is much easier to produce repeatable, forecastable results in the controlled environment of a factory floor than in the more unpredictable world of construction. Greater variation and workflow disruptions are to be expected.

It is also important to note that there is no one cookie-cutter approach to Lean construction. There are a number of tools including the Last Planner System, Integrated Project Delivery, Building Information Modeling, 5s, and Kaizen Events that can be used in combination to achieve lean. This gives practitioners a wide range of options that can be applied to each project.  

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There are, however guiding principles that help firms achieve lower costs, reduced construction times, more productivity and efficient project management. They represent a holistic approach to the construction process.

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Topics: Lean

An Introduction to Process Control Charts

Posted by Greg Jacobson

May 3, 2017 7:02:00 AM

Donald J. Wheeler, PhD is a world-renown expert in continuous improvement, having worked with W. Edwards Deming and later writing the classic book Understanding Variation. 

Wheeler once wrote and said, "Statistical Process Control is, at its heart, about getting the most from your processes. It is about the continual improvement of processes and outcomes. And it is, first and foremost, a way of thinking... with some tools attached." 

I’d like to thank him for providing the perfect quote for a blog about process control charts because measurement, control, and improvement are exactly what they are designed to enable.

What is a Process Control Chart?

Process control charts (or what Wheeler calls "process behavior charts") are graphs or charts that plot out process data or management data (outputs) in a time-ordered sequence. It's a specialized run chart. They typically include a center line, a 3-sigma upper control limit, and a 3-sigma lower control limit. There might be 1- or 2-sigma limits drawn in, as well. The center line represents the process mean or average (and sometimes the median).

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Topics: Lean, Six Sigma, Improvement Process

"Lean Thinking" and the 5 Principles of Lean Manufacturing

Posted by Kade Jansson

May 2, 2017 7:02:00 AM

James Womack and Dan Jones are the founders of the Lean Enterprise Institute and the Lean Enterprise Academy (UK), respectively. Their book, Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, is considered by some to be the bible of Lean manufacturing.  It was originally published in 1996 based on their in-depth study of Toyota’s fabled Toyota Production System (TPS). Philip Caldwell Chairman and CEO of Ford from 1980-1985, said of the book, “Truly remarkable...The most comprehensive, instructive, mind-stretching and provocative analysis of any major industry I have ever known.” 

Lean Thinking lays out the five Lean manufacturing principles; value, value streams, flow, pull, and perfection.  Here’s some insight into what Womack and Jones meant by each.

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Topics: Lean, Daily Lean Management

9 Ways a Lean Management System Propels Positive Change

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 28, 2017 8:16:00 AM

I was at a neighborhood gathering the other day when I ran into an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years.  She asked me what I had been up to, so I told her a bit about my role at KaiNexus and mentioned that we have software that helps companies achieve success with business methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma.

“Oh,” she said. “I figured they just used spreadsheets and email.”

I didn’t want to hog the conversation or turn a social event into a business lecture, so I just responded that there are a lot of reasons that organizations are more successful if they use software to support improvement efforts.

I was trying to be chill then, I’m not now. You’ve come to this blog for a reason, so hopefully (unlike my friend) you are interested in the gritty details about how a Lean management system can act as a booster rocket for positive organizational change. Here are nine ways that spring to mind.

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Topics: Lean, Software, Continuous Improvement Software

Get Your Lean Management System Off to the Right Start

Posted by Jake Sussman

Apr 7, 2017 10:20:48 AM

The first few months of the implementation of any technology or management system are crucial to success. This is doubly true for many Lean management system deployments because often organizations are introducing the Lean approach and the technology to support it at the same time. Over the years, our customers have shared with us some of their best advice for rolling out a solution that will be adopted by employees and effective at speeding the pace of positive change. Here’s what they recommend.

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Topics: Lean, Software, Continuous Improvement Software

Lean Construction – Frequently Asked Questions

Posted by Matt Banna

Mar 28, 2017 12:10:58 PM

As you can probably tell from reading this blog or others about the Lean approach to business management, most of what is written about the subject is applied to manufacturing and healthcare organizations. We know, however, that its application is not that limited. We have clients in technology, education, agriculture, professional services, and more.

One sector that is starting to embrace the Lean approach with increasing enthusiasm is construction. We’ve been delighted to see a new level of interest from leaders in the field. We thought it might be useful to share some of the questions we get asked most often about Lean construction.

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Why is the Construction Industry Turning to Lean?

In terms of the adoption of performance improvement and quality optimization techniques, the construction industry lags somewhat behind the manufacturing and services sectors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in the last 40 years, the productivity of the construction industry has stayed flat, while the productivity of other non-farm industries increased over 100%. Why? Several studies have found that at least 30% of wasted resources are caused by “entrenched attitudes in the management of projects.” Clearly, there is a compelling reason to try a new approach.

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Topics: Lean