Lean Does NOT Turn People into Robots
Again, that is the furthest thing from truth. Fine, don’t believe me. Believe a hospital. Some Starbucks people are saying, “We are a people business, Lean doesn’t apply.” Healthcare is the ultimate people business – and Lean applies.
Last night, I was reading the outstanding book The Best Practice: How the New Quality Movement is Transforming Medicine and I saw a passage that summed it up perfectly:
Some doctors feared a kind of robotization of their profession, but [Virginia Mason Medical Center CEO] Kaplan had seen in Japan that, far from treating employees as robots, the Toyota Production System provided each worker with immense power. The system was based on the idea of continuous incremental improvement. Under TPS, there were no silver bullets, no huge sweeping solutions. Rather, there were dozens, and then hundreds, and then thousands, and tens of thousands of small improvements day after day after day-continuously-that improved quality. It was not up to management alone to foster ideas for improvement, nor was it the exclusive province of a quality department. It was the job of every worker; and, at Toyota, workers took this very seriously so seriously that employees at Toyota came up with hundreds of thousands of improvement ideas each year-and the majority were adopted.
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You can argue and criticize Lean all you want. You might like the way things work today. You might not want to change. It might be easier to just complain and not do anything.
But it’s hard to say that Lean can’t apply in a people business.