Practicing What We Preach at KaiNexus, Learning & Sharing


screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-8-22-34-pmThis week is our 2nd annual KaiNexus User Conference, in Austin… with customers and those who are about to become customers joining us for 1.5 or 2.5 days of sharing, learning, and fun.

If Austin's expression is “Keep Austin Weird,” maybe we can “Keep Improvement Weird?” I should make t-shirts.

Before writing about the conference, I want to point you to an article in CAP Today (a publication about hospital and medical laboratories) that mentions KaiNexus (as mentioned on our blog):

Process improvement software more than online suggestion box

From the article:

“[Co-founder and CEO] Dr. [Greg] Jacobson exudes enthusiasm when he talks about KaiNexus software, but he stresses that it's much more than an online suggestion box, a description often ascribed to the enterprise-wide software-as-a-service offering. “KaiNexus provides a unified platform to manage everything from small, daily improvements to large improvement projects and strategy deployment,” he says.”

This is something we're really proud of… and what makes this a Kaizen-based approach and not a suggestion box:

“Clients, on average, implement more than 80 percent of ideas submitted via KaiNexus, compared to less than three percent submitted via a suggestion box, according to Dr. Jacobson.”

The Toyota benchmark is said to be 90% implementation rates (meaning they find SOMETHING to implement 90% of the time, even if it's not the original idea). But 80% is pretty good. It can be better… Kaizen.

And there's a story of a customer:

“Starting with the pharmacy, which had the most active idea board, Dr. [Tania] Lyon gradually rolled out KaiNexus to nearly 100 areas, including the pathology lab. About two-thirds of the hospital's 2,400 employees now use KaiNexus, with more coming on every week… Now, with KaiNexus, we can finally see all those small changes adding up to significant organizational improvement.”

You can listen to my podcast with Tania here:

Podcast #257 – Tania Lyon, #Lean at St. Clair Hospital & @KaiNexus

You can read a summary of the podcast and see some video of Tania on the KaiNexus blog (embedded below too):

She will also be doing a KaiNexus Webinar in December that you can register for (it's free for all). Details coming soon.

Continuously Improving our User Conference

Maggie Millard has done a great job planning the conference again. At KaiNexus, we all do our best to practice what we preach – and that means practicing continuous improvement and using our KaiNexus software to track our improvements.

Maggie has written a great blog post about this:

How I Kept Track of 72 Improvements from Last Year's User Conference

She didn't just keep track of them… we implemented them, working together as a team.

She writes, in part:

“What I like – no, LOVE – about my job is that when I mess something up, no one is looking to point fingers. Everyone is concerned about what can be done better next time. This, my friends, is a true culture of continuous improvement.”

I love, LOVE hearing her say that. From my earliest days working with the co-founders in 2011, that's the type of culture I wanted to see us develop. And, as we grow, we have to nurture and maintain that culture over time.

And I bet we're implementing about 90% of our ideas! Our conference might happen in an annual batch, but we can work on improvements for it all year long. Or, the KaiNexus platform makes sure we don't forget to follow up on anything. It's so helpful.

Details of the Event

You can follow our Twitter hashtag at #KaiNexusUC16. Activity should pick up Tuesday when we start with the optional “Experience Change” workshop that I'm facilitating.

Wednesday and Thursday are the main days of the conference.

I'll be giving a keynote talk Wednesday morning:


I'll be talking about motivation and alignment.

Why do organizations assume that we have to set targets and offer incentives to get people to participate in continuous improvement?

I'll make the case that leaders shouldn't blame employees. Leaders often need to look at the mirror to figure out they need to do to create a culture where it's safe and worthwhile for people to speak up and take action to improve.

People want to improve! Leaders sometimes need to get the hell out of the way.

I'll also talk about the need for balance when offering incentives (they shouldn't be too large… and they should be shared with everyone who participates in an improvement).

And the need for balance when trying to get alignment through Strategy Deployment.

Trying too hard to get alignment between improvement and goals can stifle participation. If leaders only want ideas about cost reduction, staff might not care and might not participate. That's natural and to be expected.

Leaders need to have balanced goals, including safety, quality, and customer service – things employees are more likely to be passionate about. And if we force every idea to be aligned, and staff aren't able to sometimes work on things that just bug them, then staff might also cross their arms, sit back, and not participate.

Yes, we should want alignment… but not too much. In all things balance.

The conference will have a lot of presentations and panel discussions featuring our customers. I'll be tweeting about it as will our team.

I'm also excited that Jamie Flinchbaugh (an investor in KaiNexus) will be giving a keynote presentation to wrap up Wednesday. I'll definitely be tweeting about that.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

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Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

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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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