Like Lean: Solving Health Care Problems By Design
Thanks to Andrew B. for passing this along – audio and web text from NPR with some concepts that might sound a lot like Lean.
In an interview with the CEO of the design firm IDEO, Tim Brown, he tells the story of using visual management concepts in an emergency room:
So one very simple idea – this was one of many ideas that got implemented – was each of the various people, the health care people in the emergency room: the doctors, the nurses, the charge nurses, the porters, we designed these very simple kind of uniforms for them to wear so that it was really clear who was who. And it even said it on big graphics on their uniforms, so that you weren’t asking a nurse the question you might be asking a doctor or you weren’t asking a porter a question you might ask a doctor.
What really makes it sound “like Lean” is the engagement of the people doing the work.
Well, this is where the participation of the people themselves that are going to change in the design of the new approach was key. And we see this all the time, don’t we, in larger organizations, that when something’s designed on the outside and then pushed into the organization, there’s often a lot of resistance. But when you involve the people themselves, then they already own the new solution, and it’s so much easier then to get the change to happen.
That’s exactly the approach I’ve tried to take with Lean in hospitals. This took me some time through my career to learn. When you’re a young engineer, you’re taught (or expected) to have answers. Lean is really about teaching others to improve their own work. So when I was consulting in hospitals, I would teach Lean concepts to the front line staff (like nurses or pharmacy techs) and let THEM figure out solutions. They own the solutions, they can sell the ideas and countermeasures to their colleagues. It’s so much easier to make the change happen, like Tim Brown says.
Tim Brown is the author of the book Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.