Everyone a Problem Solver?
A phrase I keep hearing more of in the Lean world, even at a few hospitals is that leaders want “everyone to be a problem solver?”
Is this uniquely Lean? Depends on what you mean by “problem solving.”I’d argue most organizations have plenty of problem solvers. They’re just solving problems at the wrong level.
Can’t find a pulse oximeter? A nurse might go scrambling around to find one. Problem solved! People are taking initiative. That’s good, except it does nothing to prevent the problem from happening again.
Can’t find a pulse oximeter a second time? Many “problem solvers” might So stash one someplace in a secret spot. That way, I can always get one when I need it. Problem solved! People are being creative (thinking outside the box, even!). That’s good, except their “solution” creates a problem for the other nurses.
I don’t mean to single out nurses, that’s just one example.
We need to redefine problem solving. We need not just fire fighting, but a new kind of problem solving where:
- People focus on finding the real root cause of a fire, not just putting it out
- People focus on preventing problems
- People focus on not sub-optimizing themselves or their own area
So maybe instead of “everyone a problem solver,” maybe “everyone a process improver” is a better expression? What do you think?