KaiNexus Education Video #5 – Moving Beyond Suggestion Boxes


Here is the fifth in our series of short, simple Kaizen education videos  from KaiNexus, a software startup where I am on the management team.  We are embedding these videos into our web-based software, to provide short tips and hints for our users (see the whole series). We're also making the videos available on  our YouTube Channel and our education videos playlist. Subscribe to our channel to be notified of each new one that's released.

Click here to see all of the videos through my blog or here to view them on the KaiNexus website. We also have an RSS feed and a podcast on the iTunes Store.

This video talks about how KaiNexus and the kaizen methodology, upon which it is based, are very different than the traditional suggestion box systems that hospitals and other types of organizations have struggled with.

Video updated September, 2014 

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Approximate Transcript of the video:

Video #5 – moving beyond suggestion boxes

Hi, I'm Mark Graban from KaiNexus.

When we talk to healthcare organizations about the idea of continuous improvement, people often mention the suggestion box-and they often talk about how their suggestion box, while well intended, never really worked or it certainly didn't live up to it's potential.

In this video, I will talk about what often goes wrong with suggestion boxes and how the modern improvement principles built into KaiNexus are different.

The 1st issue is that suggestion boxes often lead to a slow response or none at all to the person who submitted the suggestion. The process of submitting a suggestion alone usually means the staff member gives up ownership of their idea – and the idea is often lost… never to be heard from again! As one healthcare professional once told me, “that box is where good ideas go to die…”

Suggestion boxes are almost always a very batchy process with a monthly or sometimes quarterly review being done by a group of managers or a far off committee. With ideas being hidden in a locked opaque box and with slow infrequent reviews, it's understandable that employees get frustrated by slow response to their ideas. These suggestion review committees often just vote yes or no to suggestions without talking to the submitter and without going to the place where the problem or opportunity exists. When people have ideas, we should work to make them happen or at least give people the feedback they deserve.

So many organizations have tried a slow non-transparent non-collaborative process in suggestion boxes. We can do better than that and that's where KaiNexus is comes in.

Our system is built upon proven modern continuous improvement concepts and management mindsets, including “kaizen,” as we talk about in our other videos.

First is the idea that employees deserve a fast collaborative response to an opportunity for improvement (or OI) that they have identified. KaiNexus facilitates a transparent open process where the employee's supervisor and coworkers can see ideas and participate in their implementation.

In an effective improvement system, employees who have ideas should find their idea responded to within just a day or two – to start the improvement process. KaiNexus prompts leaders to do so through their individualized dashboard screen and a daily e-mail digest.

Instead of having a high number of suggestions summarily rejected, KaiNexus' customers are able to work to find something that can be implemented up to 90% of the time – doing improvement work this way builds enthusiasm for more improvement.

And unlike the humble suggestion box, KaiNexus prompts users to evaluate the impact of their OI to help generate reports that measure the impact of your important improvements. It becomes infectious – but in a good way.

Our experience shows that modern improvement principles and methods can help us all get beyond the dysfunctional suggestion box – we hope you'll join us in this important healthcare improvement effort.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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