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Continuous Improvement at
Array Architects


KaiNexus customer Jonathan Bykowski, Principal and Practice Area Leader, Continuous Improvement for Array Architects, discusses his organization's use of KaiNexus. 


In this video, Jonathan says...

As our continuous improvement initiative was gaining traction and starting to involve folks from around the firm, we wanted to very simply create some sort of a Kaizen board. We wanted one place where people could go to see all of the improvement that was happening around the firm, where they could make suggestions, and where they could offer input.

Transparency is one of our fundamental tenants to improvement. In order to really drive culture change, we wanted everyone to see what was happening and we wanted to be fully transparent about all of our improvement, no matter how strategic or business-metric focused it happened to be. But we operate in seven offices around the country, and I’m a huge fan of simple solutions when a simple solution will work.

I much prefer simple over sexy if the “simple” is not going to become a barrier. The fanciest technology on the planet looks really slick, but if it causes people to not use something because it’s too hard to figure out how to turn it on or remember their password, then it doesn’t do us any good. But as much as I wanted a simple whiteboard with some magnets and an eraser, we just couldn’t manage that across seven offices.

So we looked for a digital version of the Kaizen board, and we found a platform called KaiNexus that actually wound up, in the end, offering us a full series of things we didn’t realize we needed until we started our work.

Through the KaiNexus platform, folks are able to see what’s going on anywhere in the firm. It acts not only as a virtual Kaizen board, but also as a really robust project management tool. It hadn’t occurred to us when we started this that, if we were successful and lots of people started submitting opportunities for improvement and working on ideas for process change, we were suddenly going to have to track and manage all that process change; we were going to need a place to store the information and content that was generated, and a way for people that weren’t directly involved with the project to track its evolution.

Shared drives and network folders and documents with terrible file names are all not good ways to work, and KaiNexus, because it’s a cloud based solution offers us a way to achieve and overcome all of that in one very elegant and intuitive platform. It’s easy to use, it’s not complicated, and I knew that we were on the right path when our COO – who is no spring chicken – was working on an improvement project and I asked him to send us a copy of the outline for the training program he’d been tasked with creating.

He very wryly replied that I would find it where it belonged: posted on KaiNexus. So, touché, George. It’s easy enough for George to use it, and if George can use it, anybody can.

Right now at Array we have a pretty wide variety of improvement work going on. Any change is good change, and we’re happy to take any opportunity to study something that one of our staff members brings forward to us, or that one of our senior leaders deems to be a key opportunity for perhaps a rapid change or rapid improvement.

Right now we have two examples I like to give because I think they show the variety of change that’s happening, as well as the idea that any change is good change.

We recently moved into a new headquarters and as part of our firms ongoing commitment to sustainability, we used it as an opportunity to get rid of all of our disposable dishware in our pantry and our bistro, so as part of our effort to make sure that there was no difficulty in that transition, we installed two dishwashers in our new space and thought we had set up a very simple process – one clean, one dirty. It turned out that that wasn’t quite so simple and that there was often confusion about which one was clean and which one was dirty.

One of our staff members submitted an opportunity for improvement (an OI) through KaiNexus – our virtual Kaizen board – and pretty rapidly our industrial engineer and our graphic designer got together, decided they could repurpose a pair of magnetic nametags that we use for our interviews, and make a quick and dirty and clean on brand magnet, and *poof* solved the problem. That was our Just Do It that I think took us all of about an hour to fix.

At the same time, we had another staff member submit a suggestion that perhaps we weren’t being as rigorous as we could be with our annual employee review process. Our employees are our greatest resource, and really our only true resource. We’re a company of thought leaders and we provide a knowledge-based service, so our staff is our most important asset. And to think that perhaps we weren’t getting the best value we could out of a resource management or employee review process was obviously a huge gap that we realized we needed to fill immediately.

So we created a cross disciplinary team that represented upstream and downstream customers and stakeholders and, over a period of several months, completely reinvented the way that we handle employee reviews, and created a much more robust process that is bidirectional and continuous throughout the year, and doesn’t rely on the notion of a once-a-year annual checkpoint.

Those are two examples of the pretty diverse continuum of improvement work, all of which is being managed under our continuous improvement initiative and tracked and available to everyone on our KaiNexus board.