Lean Leap to Health Care #1

Mark’s Note:  Welcome to the first in what will be a series of blog posts from Scott McDuffee. I was introduced to Scott through a mutual Lean associate and he happens to live near by me in Texas. Scott is one of the many people I’ve talked to about trying to transition from manufacturing into healthcare. Scott is part of the inspiration for the www.MoveToHealthcare.com  networking effort that I have started (and he is assisting with). We are expecting this to be a weekly series of posts and it’s possible Scott will start up his own blog. Happy reading and happy networking to those who can help Scott in his journey.

Lean Leap to Health Care #1

by Scott McDuffee

Like countless others, the economic downturn affected my job – BAM! Also like many, I had mistakenly felt secure – only to be dealt a harsh reality after two decades with the same company – OUCH!

I had started at age 20 in the paint department at one of many plants just opened to keep up with rising demand. Capacity was king. I was an “industrial athlete” back in the piece-work batching days.

Through the glory years, I was afforded great development opportunities including a broad array of leadership, lean, and HR roles. It was lean thinking that spurred my passion; I had drunk the Kool Aid.

Upon leaving and armed with conventional wisdom from seasoned colleagues such as – The time to change industries is NOT when you are jobless. I set out to explore lean applications in Healthcare.

My well-intentioned advisors were merely restating a probability pecking order – same job/same industry, different job/same industry, same job/different industry, then different job/different industry.

No, it wasn’t a blatant disregard for advice driving me toward the unknown. A scan of the economic horizon suggested Healthcare was “recession-proof” compared to manufacturing; it was even growing.

In fact, as one of the many recruiters shared, the jobs seem to be either in blowing people up (Defense) or patching people up (Health Care). So along with major defense contractors, I am targeting Healthcare.

Wishing to keep wearing my lean hat, it is also an industry ripe for customer centered continuous improvement. There is a “feel good‚” aspect as well. Improving processes could literally save lives.

Now, I am networking, a term advocated ad nauseum as the process by which jobs are actually found. I am researching and reading books like Lean Hospitals, getting Google news blasts, and scanning the web.

Still, I know this is a big leap. As a factory rat, even one with a 5S background, how might I fit in the perceived pristine environment of Health Care? How do I shed my outsider’s stigma?

Through networking serendipity, I found myself across the table from a fellow softball parent who currently volunteered at the local hospital. EUREKA!

Coming Next Week in Lean Leap to Healthcare #2: Batched @ the Hospital!

Scott McDuffee is an experienced Lean professional who is currently searching for a new career opportunity. He is based in Mansfield, TX.”


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Now Available – The updated, expanded, and revised 3rd Edition of Mark Graban’s Shingo Research Award-Winning Book Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement. You can buy the book today, including signed copies from the author.


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Scott McDuffee

Scott is a Lean Change Leader who has worked in multiple manufacturing sectors. He blogged primarily about his steps taken to investigate switching into healthcare in 2009.

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