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Bottom-Up Improvement

The Fuel of an Improvement Culture

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Engage Everyone in Improvement

Every Person. Every Job. Every Day.

 
  • In our organization, we have two jobs: to do your job, and to improve your job. We help our employees do that every day with KaiNexus. Karen Kiel Rosser Mary Greeley Medical Center
  • KaiNexus enables us to harness our improvement energy by giving us the structure to support and encourage our employees. Matthew Cannistraro Cannistraro
  • KaiNexus empowers the people who directly impact outcomes. It may be the most powerful tool in the health care cultural revolution. Kristin Bentz LeeHealth

Get EVERYONE Improving

With an Average Annual Impact of $6,000 per Person, 
The ROI of Bottom-Up Improvement Really Adds Up

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Achieve KPIs

Setting and communicating your strategic goals is just the first step of the equation in actually achieving them. Engaging staff in bottom-up improvement gets all of the great minds in your organization working toward achieving those goals. There's strength in numbers!

 

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Increase Satisfaction

Your front line staff are sure to focus on improvements that make their jobs better. The downstream impact of that is that they stick around longer, improve ineffienct processes, and work to increase the satisfaction of their customers and colleagues. 

 

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Think Outside the Box 

Who has the best ideas about improving processes on the front lines? The people doing the work, of course. They have a depth of understanding of their work that no executive in an office could ever have, and can therefore make more impactful improvements.

 

 

The Savvy Leader's Guide to Employee Engagement

Eliminate Barriers to Improvement

If It's Too Hard to Participate, No One Will

Streamline

Unite your improvement efforts to get  everyone speaking the same language and pulling in the same direction. Develop a cohesive, flexible process that will work for everyone.

 

Simplify

KaiNexus provides an intuitive platform that can be customized to give each person just the right information and responsibility, so that everyone at any level can participate in improvement.

Improve Visibility and Collaboration

Empower Employees with the Information They Need
When and Where They Need It

 

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What are the traits you look for when you hire new employees? If you’re like most people, you’re looking for employees that are intelligent, capable, problem solvers who take the initiative to get stuff done, and do it well. It’s a shame that these same people who got hired for their mental faculties then so commonly get relegated to being a pawn in the corporate machine, with no autonomy or power to improve the business through their work.

In fact, some of the top reasons people leave their jobs are that they feel underutilized, aren’t given the opportunity to learn, grow, and improve, don’t feel that their work is meaningful, and are bored by their work.

This is one of the striking differences between regular companies and those that strive for a culture of continuous improvement. The foundation of an improvement culture is the employees, who are empowers to make daily improvements to their work that increase their own happiness, add value to the products and services provided to customers, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their work.

Employees in a culture of improvement are engaged in their work, know that their work is valued by their employer, and are invested in the success of the company.

Technology Supports Bottom-Up Improvement

Simplify Engagement. Increase Visibility. Improve Collaboration.

Engage From Anywhere


The first step to getting people to participate in your improvement culture is to make it easy for them by letting them submit ideas for improvement from whatever device they’re using when they come up with idea. KaiNexus lets people send in ideas using an app, email, or any computer or tablet. 

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Streamline Collaboration


Get out of your inbox and into KaiNexus by commenting directly on each improvement to keep everyone in the loop, regardless of shift or location. Store data with improvements, build teams to increase accountability,  assign work and stay on top of due dates, and access reports that update in real-time. Your teams should focus on improvement. Let us manage the details.

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Share Boards With Anyone
From Anywhere


Bring classics like Kanban and Kaizen Boards to the digital world. Create new boards to track processes like Strategy Deployment, Gemba Walks, and Huddles. Your teams stay engaged between meetings, and participate without interrupting their daily workflow.

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Improvement Boards

Inspire Others To Get In The Game

Lead With A Carrot, Not With A Stick

 

Recognize and Reward Rockstars

Give a shout out to the people who are improving with built-in recognition features that let you reward engagement and encourage additional participation .

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Share Successes 
Large and Small

Share improvements across your organization to motivate more people to get involved, demonstrate that each improvement matters, and spread new ideas.

A sustainable culture of continuous improvement needs five things: bottom-up improvement, top-down improvement, strategy deployment, coaching, and visual management. Every organization claiming to be Lean incorporates some of these 5 elements, but only the best incorporate them all.

Part of the trouble companies have is that they find themselves focusing too much on top-down initiatives such as Rapid Improvement Events, Kaizen Events, and Lean projects. Yes, these approaches are all valuable - but they’re not the end all, be all of an improvement culture. Bottom-up improvement is necessary in order to make incremental, impactful improvement by engaging every person in the organization in solving the most pressing business concerns.

There are some major differences that must be accounted for when coaching bottom-up improvement as compared to top-down. Let's take a look at what some of those differences are - and why increasing bottom-up improvement is worth making a change to your coaching style.

 

Everyone Doesn't Need to Be an Expert

It’s common for improvement coaches to operate in a bubble in which everyone they engage with has the words “Lean” or “Process Excellence” in their titles. In this case, the people you’re coaching on improvement already have a strong foundation in Lean methodologies and principles.

It’s a pretty different scenario when you’re coaching staff in a bottom-up improvement culture. These people have no Lean training, and are certainly not improvement experts. You’ll provide them some introductory training as you roll out the improvement culture, but don’t get trapped into thinking everyone needs to be an expert before they’re allowed to participate in improvement.

Everyone has the ability to examine their own processes and identify ways to improve them. Don’t get bogged down by adding unnecessary complexity to the improvement process. Make it easy for people to submit their ideas for improvement, give honest and respectful feedback when those ideas are impractical or unnecessary, and coach people gradually to work through the improvement cycle in their daily work.


Dispersed Workforce? No Problem

When the only improvement initiatives taking place in an organization are large projects and events, it’s relatively easy for an individual coach (or a small team)  to keep track of who is working on what, issues that are popping up, and the results obtained.

When you’re coaching a bottom-up improvement culture, it’s a different story. Here you have hundreds of employees fulfilling every function in the business, spread throughout the building - or even across the country.

You’ll need to utilize technology that increases visibility into the improvement work of a dispersed workforce. You can’t possibly have one-on-one checkins like you could with small teams in rapid improvement events, but you can get the visibility to see what people are working on, when work is falling overdue, when managers aren’t keeping up with their staff, when people need coaching on thinking through improvements, and so on.

It’s critical that you maintain communication with your staff, offering feedback consistently and promptly. Continuous improvement software makes it possible for you to offer this level of service to a large team in a bottom-up improvement culture without necessarily having to expand your coaching team

 

Enlist the Help of Managers

When you’re coaching improvement experts in Kaizen events and Lean projects, you’re pretty much running the show. It’s a controlled environment, you have access to all the data, and you have the bandwidth to coach all teams closely.

When coaching a bottom-up improvement culture, though, managers play a much heavier role in guiding the culture and driving progress. For example, you can’t approve and assign every improvement in the organization; even taking bandwidth out of the equation, you don’t know enough about every process to decide whether the ideas are good ones or who should work on them.

That’s where your managers come into play. You’ll need to focus a lot of effort on how to coach managers to encourage employee engagement, maintain a positive improvement culture, and ensure that progress is made via improvement toward strategic goals.

To do this, it’s important to have transparency into the workflow of the managers. Are their areas getting fewer staff ideas than others? The managers need coaching to increase employee engagement in the improvement program. Are staff submitting ideas that are ignored for too long? The managers need coaching on the importance of reacting quickly to new ideas. Are managers taking on too much of the work themselves, and thus falling behind and reducing employee engagement? They need some coaching on how to empower employees to be responsible for their own ideas.

With targeted coaching like this, you’ll gradually train up a team of managers that are capable of helping you drive a bottom-up improvement culture at a local level. With that extra layer of help, the culture will spread far beyond what it could have done without the help of managers.

 

Get More Impact from Your Efforts

When you’re an improvement coach leading one improvement event per month, the impact you can have on the organization is limited in size and scope. If you’re a coach in a bottom-up improvement culture, the opportunity for growth and impact is really unlimited.

The more people you’re able to reach through targeted coaching and manager development, the more far-reaching your impact will be. Using the engagement and activity reports in continuous improvement software makes it possible for you to continuously hone in on areas that need your help and offer encouragement to those that are doing well without you.

In this way, coaching bottom-up improvement gives you the opportunity to touch more people and lead an organization-wide cultural transformation.

 

Access Real-Time Reports

When trying to calculate the impact of improvement, the levels of engagement, and the amount of activity in your improvement culture, you need everyone tracking this information in the same way so that you can compare apples to apples. That’s simple enough when your organization only does top-down initiatives - but nearly impossible in a bottom-up culture of improvement in which everyone uses their own language and methodology for tracking such things.

That is, nearly impossible without continuous improvement software. A CI platform helps here by creating an organization standard that fits the workflows and processes unique to your own organization. It gets everyone speaking the same language and reporting the impact of improvement the same way, and then compiles reports of all KPIs for you.

Continuous improvement software automatically generates impact, activity, and engagement reports that scale to any level of the organization, so that you can look at the company as a whole or drill down into specific areas and individuals for more detail.

While reporting on bottom-up improvement across an organization seems like a daunting task, it’s made possible (and simple) by the right technology.

How Technology Enables Better Coaching

Visibility into Who is Doing What


When you have people all over the organization engaged in bottom-up improvement, it’s impossible to keep up with what’s happening where using spreadsheets and bulletin boards. Continuous improvement software gives you access to activity and engagement metrics that show where your help is most needed, so that you can target your coaching for maximum impact and efficiency.

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Track Training and Certifications


While staff don’t need to be improvement experts to participate in daily continuous improvement, they do need some base-level knowledge about what type of ideas to look for and how to implement them effectively. Continuous improvement software makes it simple to track your certification classes and training projects so that you can keep up with a large-scale rollout without all the paperwork.

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Identify Bottlenecks


Managers play a big role in a bottom-up improvement culture, because they’re the ones interacting with staff on a daily basis about their improvement. The role of the coach in this scenario is to offer those managers coaching and skills development as needed. Continuous improvement software helps you identify bottlenecks like managers who aren’t delegating, those who aren’t keeping up with new improvements as they’re submitted, and those who aren’t validating the results of completed improvements. This way, you know which managers need your help, and can focus your efforts on helping them improve.

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Reduced Administrative Burden


Keeping up with the improvement initiatives across the organization can be overwhelming - all the meetings and emails can easily get out of control. Continuous improvement software streamlines communication, standardizes reporting, and increases visibility so that you can focus on your staff and the big picture rather than little administrative details.

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Show ROI of Coaching Efforts


There are lots of reasons one would want to validate the ROI of their work, from justifying your position or an improvement budget increase to advocating for more time spent on improvement. Continuous improvement software makes it possible to confidently, objectively show the impact your work has had on the bottom line.

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Impact Summary
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Instant Access to All Boards


Continuous improvement software makes your boards digital so that they can still be displayed on the wall of work areas with the formatting your staff are used to, but can also be accessed on your computer so that you can check in from anywhere. Drill down into the details of any improvement or project without having to hunt people down with questions, and thus spend your valuable on-site and meeting time discussing the work at a higher level.

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