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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement

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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

How’s Your Lean Software Implementation Working Out?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 23, 2019 3:35:55 PM

We’re not going to lie. Implementing any kind of software solution in an organization is not easy. First, you must make sure you select a solution that will actually help address whatever challenge is at hand. Then you have to get it implemented and work out the kinks (there are always kinks). You have to get users trained, and then you face the biggest hurdle of them all – getting people to use the system. Sometimes it all goes smoothly, but challenges are not uncommon.

If you’ve implemented Lean software, you’ve probably faced a few. This post will help you access whether your Lean technology has taken root and give you some ideas for boosting adoption if that’s what’s needed.

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Topics: Lean, Software, Continuous Improvement Software

2 Popular Process Improvement Methodologies Explained

Posted by Jake Sussman

Jul 19, 2019 8:41:00 AM

The world’s most successful organizations are relentless in their quest for flawless processes and perfect execution. The ability to reliably produce quality outcomes with minimal waste is elusive but achievable with the right leadership and attention. That’s why many organizations turn to proven process improvement methodologies and techniques.

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Topics: Lean, Six Sigma, Continuous Improvement Software

A Structured Approach to Problem-Solving | Webinar Recap

Posted by Noah Paratore

Jul 9, 2019 6:45:00 AM

A little while back, we had the pleasure of presenting a webinar hosted by Chad Westbrook, a manufacturing engineering manager and AGCO production system manager at AGCO Corporation. AGCO is a full line manufacturer of agricultural equipment. The company makes everything, including tractors, tillers, sprayers, bailers, and other equipment. Chad joined our own Mark Graban to discuss a different way of thinking about problem-solving. This post is a recap of the presentation - watch the full thing for all the details!

A Structured Approach to Problem-Solving

Presented by Chad Westbrook, AGCO

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In this webinar, you'll learn a structured approach to problem-solving using the following tools:

  • 5G – A tool used to describe a loss phenomenon
  • 5W1H – An approach to the revised phenomenon
  • 4M1D – Defining the contributing factors to the revised phenomenon
  • 4M1D Confirmation – Validating the contributing factors
  • 5 Why’s – Root cause and effective countermeasures
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Topics: Lean, Spread Continuous Improvement

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

Which Lean Manufacturing Tools Can Improvement Software Enhance?

Posted by Jake Sussman

May 22, 2019 12:39:31 PM

One of the reasons that the Lean manufacturing business methodology is so popular with companies in every industry is that it comes complete with a set of tools for structuring and managing the goal of continuous improvement and waste reduction. These tools are great on their own, but many of them become even more valuable when improvement management software is used as a single platform for managing positive change. This post examines some of the most often used.

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Topics: Lean, Software, Daily Lean Management, Continuous Improvement Software

The Lean Manufacturing Cheat Sheet

Posted by Lisa Hanna

Apr 30, 2019 8:34:00 AM

I created dozens of cheat sheets during my high school and college career. Don’t worry; I didn’t use them to cheat on the test. I found that the exercise of creating a crib card helped me review the relevant material and organize my thoughts, so when it was time for the exam, I was well prepared to do well without resorting to fraud. Anything that I would want to put on the sheet was something that I should fully understand.

You might not “test” your employees on the essential concepts in Lean manufacturing, but there are still some fundamental ideas that they should understand. We’ve put together this brief review of the most important as a place to start. If every team member can discuss and explain each of them, your potential for improvement is vast.

(Note, this post is meant to be a refresher, not an introduction to any of these concepts. For more in-depth information, click on the links at the top of each section.)

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Topics: Lean, Daily Lean Management

Why Some Hoshin Kanri Implementations Go Wrong

Posted by Kade Jansson

Apr 11, 2019 7:46:56 AM

Hoshin Kanri is a strategy deployment approach that is popular with organizations using the Lean or Six Sigma business methodology and others that commit to continuous improvement. The object is to define the organization’s “True North” and drive toward it, reaching breakthrough goals while still managing daily incremental improvement. When properly executed, organizations have used it to improve profitability, sustain growth, enter new markets, and deliver innovative new products to customers. (If you are not familiar with the approach, you can learn more about it in this post.)

As useful as Hoshin Kanri can be, it doesn’t always work. We’ve seen some organizations achieve great success and others give up in frustration.

While every organization is different, here are some of the common problems we see when Hoshin planning hits a dead end.

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Topics: Lean, Hoshin Kanri

What Changes When an Organization Implements a Lean Management System?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 2, 2019 12:59:05 PM

We talk to people who are interested in investing in software to support their continuous improvement efforts every day. Some of them are already using the Lean business methodology, others are just rolling it out, and still others are taking a “Lean light” approach by leveraging some of the principles without adopting all of the techniques. In any case, leaders want to have a good understanding of what to expect and how a Lean management system can help them achieve their goals. Fortunately, we are well positioned to share what our customers have told us happened when they invested in technology to bolster their improvement and waste reduction efforts.

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Topics: Lean, Software, Daily Lean Management, Continuous Improvement Software

An 11 Step Gemba Walk Template for Executive Leaders

Posted by Ryan Rippey

Mar 29, 2019 9:04:00 AM

“We say seeing is believing, but actually, we are much better at believing than seeing. In fact, we are seeing what we believe all the time and occasionally, what we can’t believe.” – Robert Anton Wilson


Gemba walks
are a critical continuous improvement technique. They are useful for leaders at every level but particularly eye-opening for executives and other top-level managers. Why? The simple process of going to the place where works is done, showing respect for workers, asking questions, and reflecting on observations can change one’s perception of how well a process is operating. It also offers an opportunity to build trust and increase employee engagement. Many direct supervisors and mid-level managers practice Gemba walks, especially in Lean organizations, but it is important for executives to do them as well. That’s why we’ve put together this Gemba walk template for executives. It addresses elements that would be less important to managers who are closer to the process daily.

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Topics: Lean, Daily Lean Management, Gemba Walk

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