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"One of the things we do understand is that when it comes to relationships with people, it's important to let them know that they can impact change."

Gary Ripkowski | Sr. Continuous Improvement Specialist


Qorvo (pronounced kor-vo) is a recently merged company, combining TriQuint Semiconductor and RFMD, that produces wafers and semiconductor solutions used primarily in mobile devices, network infrastructure, and defense applications. Qorvo’s core technology helps connect the world.

Have you ever heard the parable For The Want of a Nail? It’s a classic story about how one seemingly small problem, a missing nail, can have monumental impact - the loss of a kingdom. Qorvo uses this analogy in their continuous improvement work throughout the organization. At Qorvo, people who identify opportunities for improvement are not complaining - they’re bringing forward the nails that might just save the kingdom. This analogy:

  1. Emphasizes the kinds of ideas that they wants staff identifying and sharing
  2. Promotes the right attitude for leaders - to look at the opportunities for improvement (“nails”) as a vital part of the continuous improvement effort

Qorvo's Stunning Impact:

Let’s take a look at their metrics from 2014 so you can get a feel for how successful this “nail” approach is.

In 2014, Qorvo had

  1. Almost 2,000 opportunities for improvement, identified by over 300 different employees. That’s an average of 6 ideas per person.
  2. As of this post, 91% of those opportunities are completed
  3. 93.5% of the completed opportunities resulted in a change

That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? What’s even cooler to see is the impact of those opportunities for improvement:

  • 755 ideas improved the quality of the organization and its products in some way
  • 216 ideas improved the safety of vendors and employees
  • 893 ideas improved the satisfaction of customers and employees, 837 of which resulted in $7 million of financial impact

For more about Qorvo's methodology and impact, check out this blog post!


The Role of Continuous Improvement Software

At first, Qorvo resisted the idea that technology was necessary to support their cultural transformation. They considered workarounds like storing photographs of A3s in a shared drive, but ultimately found that sharing information (a critical part of sustained improvements) was too difficult without enabling technology. 

So they started using the KaiNexus continuous improvement platform as a way to track all of the improvement ideas that were flowing in from employees on the front line. The desire to empower everyone from operators and technicians to engineers and managers to implement improvements in their daily work is a big driver of the Lean culture at Qorvo. KaiNexus gives them a centralized location, accessible to everyone, anytime, anywhere, in which to store their improvement work. As Director of Etch Engineering Alice Quesenberry says,

KaiNexus makes it possible for us to share everyone’s improvement ideas with everyone else, and provides a searchable database of the ideas so that we can find them again later.

For more information about the balance of leadership, methodology, and technology that makes Qorvo so successful, read this. 

At first, Qorvo resisted the idea of adopting a new technology platform to manage their continuous improvement work because they, like many organizations today, were experiencing software overload. They ultimately decided to partner with KaiNexus anyway. Alice Quesenberry explains why:

"So we started using the KaiNexus continuous improvement software as a way to track all other these ideas that we were asking people to identify. For us, that was the heart of it - to empower the person who's doing the work. We want the operator, the technician, the engineer - anyone, really - to say, "You know what? This bugs the crap out of me. I'm finally going to do something about it. Let me go write this down somewhere."

We wanted to have a way for them to do that easily, because you can't always stop what you're doing, get a flipchart, draw your A3, and start working on it. And if you did, where would you put it? Because of course, you're going to have to share it with the guy on the other shift, at the other end of the week.

That's what's been great for us - KaiNexus is a way to collect and potentially to share these ideas. It’s easy for people to put their ideas into the system without disrupting their workflow. KaiNexus makes it possible for us to share everyone’s improvement ideas with everyone else, and provides a searchable database of the ideas so that we can find them again later." 

Read more about their decision to partner with KaiNexus here.

See How Qorvo Uses KaiNexus for A3s