By September 11, 2007 0 Comments Read More →

From Autos to Healthcare

In Shift, Auto Workers Flee to Health-Care Jobs –

This story caught my ear, first, when I heard it on the Wall Street Journal This Morning radio show (XM channel 167), even though the host had a bit of a snotty “what could these dummies do in healthcare” tone of voice to him. I’m linking to the newspaper version of the article, that talks about how the most popular new career choice of bailing autoworkers is healthcare, something like 40% of the departing Ford workers are going that route.

“Workers say the jobs are also a welcome break from repetitive work. Chris Pengov, a 48-year-old native of Norwalk, Ohio, spent the past 15 years with Ford, most recently tightening lug nuts and installing rims and tires on Econoline vans and other vehicles at a plant in Avon Lake, Ohio. ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste,’ he says. ‘That’s what happens working on the line.'”

For one, that’s a sad commentary on life on the line at Ford, that your brain goes to waste. Check your brain at the door. That’s what I heard at GM in the 1990’s and it is the opposite of the objectives of Toyota’s “Thinking Production System.”

But you know what, I’ve heard hospital employees make the same complaint about “check your brain at the door,” particularly in departments that have very repetitive work in them. I’ve seen very repetitive, mindless type work in hospitals and it’s fair to say that hospital management doesn’t always engage their employees, either, in general.

I hope the autoworkers aren’t expecting nirvana, but at least an environment better than the auto industry. They’ll probably have more job security, at least.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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