Archive for February, 2011

Parody Audio: Charlie Sheen Calls to Talk Lean Healthcare?

Parody Audio: Charlie Sheen Calls to Talk Lean Healthcare?

Now actor Charlie Sheen has been all over the news lately, giving interviews to practically anyone with a microphone. This is the type of “news” I normally try to tune out, yet alone blog about.

Somehow, he stumbled across my “Lean Line” phone number to talk about Lean Healthcare, although I suspect he may have been looking for the street drug called “lean.”

He claimed to have spent his hiatus from TV working to teach and implement the “Lean” methodology at hospitals around Los Angeles. Listen to the audio and judge for yourself – is he pulling our legs? Is this just another Hollywood publicity stunt? Is he the type of Lean consultant you would want around?  Does he follow the Toyota “respect for people” philosophy?

MP3 File (run time 6:45)

Ok, it’s an early April Fool’s Joke…. that was audio taken from an interview he gave to ABC’s Good Mo

By February 28, 2011 2 Comments Read More →
Systems in Place to Prevent These Medication Errors? Seems Not…

Systems in Place to Prevent These Medication Errors? Seems Not…

magic pillsA few weeks ago, I saw a horrific story about a retail pharmacy error in the article “Pharmacy Mistakenly Gives Pregnant Woman Abortion Pill.” Mareena Silva was mistakenly given the wrong drug by her Safeway pharmacy, which means she might lose her unborn child, as a result.

When tragic events like this happen, leaders should go to the “gemba” (the actual workplace). We don’t have that luxury here on the blog, but we can look at statements in news reports to see what cautionary lessons we might draw that could be of use in other settings.

By February 28, 2011 5 Comments Read More →

Funny ‘Family Guy’ Clip that Illustrates Disdain for Manufacturing; Plus a Clip from FastCap, a Lean Company

Friday, I blogged about a WIRED Magazine piece by Joel Johnson that was pretty disrespectful of manufacturing, in general, as he wrote that “every single manufacturing job ever” was “repetitive, exhausting, and [an] alienating workplace over which you have no influence or authority.” That might describe some factories, but hardly ALL.

I stumbled across this funny Family Guy clip, where Peter Griffin (a factory worker) gets heckled at the school’s career day… maybe this was Joel Johnson growing up?  :-)

By February 27, 2011 0 Comments Read More →
Enough with the Factory Bashing, Please – Healthcare Professionals and WIRED Magazine

Enough with the Factory Bashing, Please – Healthcare Professionals and WIRED Magazine

Those of you who know my background know that I spent the first 10 years of my career working in various manufacturing sectors (including GM, Dell, and Honeywell). I moved into healthcare in 2005, part of the wave of people who are transferring the Lean methodology of management and quality improvement into an industry that needs it greatly, given the patient safety problems, rising costs, and oft-disengaged workforce.

I generally hear my fair share of what I call “factory bashing,” primarily from professionals who have only seen a factory on TV. When people say, “we don’t want this hospital to be some sort of factory,” I am sympathetic that they picture something like the bleak factory that Family Guy’s Peter Griffin works in…

By February 25, 2011 22 Comments Read More →
“Project Search,” Lean, Cincinnati Children’s, and Respect for People

“Project Search,” Lean, Cincinnati Children’s, and Respect for People

I had the most amazing morning a few weeks ago when I was in Cincinnati for the TechSolve lean healthcare event. Thanks to a friend of my sister’s, I was able to spend a few hours at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Project Search.

Project Search was started at Cincinnati Children’s and is run by the Great Oaks school district, where my sister works. Project Search, which has now spread nationally, is a program that provides a year of job training for young adults with disabilities. More important, it helps provide respect, dignity, and pride in their work, as they are often placed in jobs within the hospital (or other workplaces) upon graduation from the program.

By February 24, 2011 1 Comments Read More →
Best “Back of a Business Card” Ever, Seen at #HIMSS

Best “Back of a Business Card” Ever, Seen at #HIMSS

I was at the annual HIMSS  Conference yesterday, as a guest of the software company FormFast, giving short 10-minute talks about Lean Healthcare to audiences at their booth. It’s fair to say that it’s 10x harder to give a succinct 10-minute Lean intro talk than it is to give a 60-minute overview. There’s a lot you’d like to cover, but time constraints force you to keep it simple, especially for IT folks who are generally very new to Lean.

I met a lot of interesting people though. Those most knowledgable about Lean came from the military – Air Force, Army, or D.O.D. medicine. That was a clear trend. And one of them gave me the best business card ever.

By February 22, 2011 11 Comments Read More →
Podcast #113 – Aubrey Daniels, PhD, “Safe by Accident?

Podcast #113 – Aubrey Daniels, PhD, “Safe by Accident?

Episode #113 is a discussion with Aubrey Daniels, PhD, the founder and chairman of his firm Aubrey Daniels International. Today, we are talking about his most recent book titled Safe By Accident?, a book I really enjoyed, so I was happy to speak with him about creating an effective safety culture culture in an organization – what doesn’t work and what does work? Why do organizations try to blame and punish their way to safety? What’s a better alternative?

Click to play:

MP3 File (run time 22:50)

Lean thinkers and students of Dr. Deming will recognize a lot of the ideas here, I think. Please take a listen and check out his book…

To point others to this episode, use the simple URL:  

By February 21, 2011 1 Comments Read More →
Living in Your Customers’ Shoes – Airport Car Rentals & Lessons for Healthcare?

Living in Your Customers’ Shoes – Airport Car Rentals & Lessons for Healthcare?

City of Blinding Lights

This might seem like a random topic, but what the heck, it’s a Friday. I arrived in Orlando yesterday for the  Society for Health Systems and  HIMSS conference and I picked up a rental gar from the garage. It’s a nice Buick Lucerne – these rental Buicks surprise me with a nice impression, while rental Chryslers always leaving me wondering how that company is still in business.

Anyhoo, as I was pulling out of the garage, I had a thought – a customer suggestion if you will that might represent a latent undiscovered need for airport customers….

By February 18, 2011 5 Comments Read More →
Presenting Lab Test Results in a More Visual Way – Lessons and Inspirations?

Presenting Lab Test Results in a More Visual Way – Lessons and Inspirations?

Today’s post isn’t strictly about Lean, but I was reminded by a reader to mention something really cool that I saw in Wired Magazine late last year. In the Lean methodology, we focus a lot on “visual management” of processes and information (or “visuality” as Gwen Galsworth calls it).

Wired had a design contest and article on “The Blood Test Gets a Makeover” that’s worth checking out – I bet it will prompt some interesting ideas for your lab or for your organization, regardless of what you do.

By February 17, 2011 2 Comments Read More →

Guest Post: Continuous Improvement’s Continuous Mistakes

Mark’s Note: Today’s guest post is from Dan Feliciano (@DanFeliciano on Twitter), a lean six sigma professional and former candidate for Governor of Vermont.

I recently attended the IQPC’s 12th Annual Lean Six Sigma & Process Improvement Summit in Orlando.  The summit is spun as drawing “together everything your organizational team could need in 2011 to accelerate and progress Business Process Transformation.”

The summit strives to provide attendees with the opportunity to network of over 800 experts “on the front-line in process optimization”,  the chance to harness the knowledge and experience from the most inspirational leaders from across the Lean, Six Sigma & BPM communities, the opportunity to address the opportunities of tomorrow, not the problems of yesterday and an opportunity to connect the dots between the Process Excellence landscapes.

However, what I heard in private and public conversations about many Lean Six Sigma programs was very concerning.  

By February 16, 2011 19 Comments Read More →
Toyota’s Video Showing How TPS Helps Healthcare; Recent NASA Report Exonerates Toyota?

Toyota’s Video Showing How TPS Helps Healthcare; Recent NASA Report Exonerates Toyota?

Toyota has produced a series of videos that show how their innovations, technology and otherwise, have benefitted people outside of automobiles.

One video that caught my eye was their 80-second video about the use of Lean and the Toyota Production System principles to improve care at Allegheny General Hospital in Pennsylvania.

Update:   If the YouTube video below doesn’t work, the video can be seen via this link (as of July 24, 2013).

By February 15, 2011 10 Comments Read More →
Fun Video: “The Committee Song”

Fun Video: “The Committee Song”

BabarI’m really thankful for an attendee in a training workshop for sharing this video as an example of traditional “non-Lean”  attitudes  and practices that she saw in her hospital.

It’s a clip from the movie “Babar – King Of The Elephants“, which features the classic children’s character Babar. In the movie, the young Babar has been named King and the old hands are explaining to him how things are done (“the way it’s always been?”).

By February 14, 2011 1 Comments Read More →
Dilbert’s Boss Again Proves He is Not a Lean Thinker

Dilbert’s Boss Again Proves He is Not a Lean Thinker

Today’s Dilbert will resonate with Lean thinkers and, I think, with the Lean Startups crowd:

112317.strip.sunday

By February 13, 2011 6 Comments Read More →
Texas Snow Days Expose the Gaming of Standardized Tests

Texas Snow Days Expose the Gaming of Standardized Tests

As you might have heard, considering all of the Super Bowl media hype from here in North Texas, our weather has been pretty bad. Between different ice storms, we’ve been “snowed in” four separate days in the last two weeks, including this past Wednesday. It wasn’t just some sort of Super Bowl curse.

Writing Exams

Many students have missed four days of school. Unfortunately, that seems to have teachers and administrators in a panic over the upcoming “TAKS” standardized testing that is taking place soon here in Texas… let the dysfunctions begin!

By February 11, 2011 12 Comments Read More →
Podcast #112 – Naida Grunden, Lean, Aviation Safety, Captain Sullenberger, and Checklists

Podcast #112 – Naida Grunden, Lean, Aviation Safety, Captain Sullenberger, and Checklists

Episode #112 is a chat with Naida Grunden, the author of the outstanding book The Pittsburgh Way to Efficient Healthcare: Improving Patient Care Using Toyota Based Methods. Here we talk about her experiences in Pittsburgh and her “small world” connection to Captain Chesley Sullenberger (a.k.a. “Sully”) and the connections between Lean, aviation safety, and checklists.

Click to play:

MP3 File (run time 25:00)

To point others to this episode, use

By February 10, 2011 Read More →
10 Key Lean Mindsets for Healthcare

10 Key Lean Mindsets for Healthcare

I really enjoyed having the chance to be in Cincinnati yesterday to participate in a Lean Healthcare workshop put on by TechSolve, a non-profit consultancy that teaches process improvement methodologies, including Lean, across multiple industries. We had well over 100 healthcare attendees from Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana in attendance.

My main theme was talking about “Bridging the Gap” – the gap between where we are today and perfection and the gap between today’s healthcare culture and a “lean culture.” I talked about some of the key mindsets of Lean that apply well in healthcare.

By February 9, 2011 18 Comments Read More →
30 Rock: Jack Donaghy is a “Six Sigma Black Belt Ultra” – And He Has Proof

30 Rock: Jack Donaghy is a “Six Sigma Black Belt Ultra” – And He Has Proof

Absolutely hilarious… last Thursday’s “30 Rock” features Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) talking about how he’s a “Six Sigma Black Belt Ultra… with the groin branding to prove it.”

By February 8, 2011 10 Comments Read More →
Lean Methods to Improve Cardiac Surgery Featured in Annals of Thoracic Surgery

Lean Methods to Improve Cardiac Surgery Featured in Annals of Thoracic Surgery

Have a Heart Desaturated Free Creative CommonsHat tip to my friend and fellow Productivity Press author Naida Grunden for pointing out an article she is a co-author on, “Improving Patient Care in Cardiac Surgery Using Toyota Production System Based Methodology,” published in the journal of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. I’m sorry that I can’t share the full article, due to copyright restrictions, but I’ll give highlights here.

From the summary of the article, freely available online:

Conclusions: By the systematic use of a real time, highly formatted problem-solving methodology, processes of care improved daily. Using carefully disciplined teamwork, reliable implementation of evidence-based protocols was realized by empowering the front line to make improvements. Low rates of complications were observed, and a cost savings of $3,497 per each case of isolated coronary artery bypass graft was realized.

By February 7, 2011 10 Comments Read More →