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My Article in “Hospital & Health Networks” on Waste in Healthcare

by Mark Graban on August 19, 2011 · 1 comment

hhnlogo My Article in Hospital & Health Networks on Waste in Healthcare leanAfter last week’s piece on “putting the continuous back into continuous improvement,” I had another article published this past week.

This new article was published in the publication “Hospitals & Health Networks,” co-authored with Rob Harding, and it’s called “Cut Costs by Reducing Redundant or Inefficient Activity,”

I’m not totally crazy about the use of the phrase “cut costs” in the headline, but sometimes you have to get the attention of readers. And, after doing so, I hope made some strong points about Lean not being simple cost cutting and how you need “respect for people” as a core element of Lean healthcare, which includes not using Lean to drive layoffs.

One snippet from the article:

Admitting You Have a Problem Is the First Step

Being able to see waste is a first step, but there are also cultural challenges when leaders want to admit that they have waste or problems. It is natural for people to want to hide waste if they fear blame or punishment.

There is a classic story from Toyota’s entry into North America, when a local factory leader was asked by visiting Japanese senior leaders what were the top three problems under his supervision. After hearing “no problems,” a response that’s often a gut reflex in many organizations, the Japanese reminded him, “‘no problems’ is a problem.” As Berwick, a supporter of Lean methodology for health care, says, “We need a culture in which staff members know that they can report on the waste they see and call it by name, without breaking the rules.”

There’s some discussion on the H&HN site that you can join in on, or feel free to post a comment here.


Mark Graban 2011 Smaller My Article in Hospital & Health Networks on Waste in Healthcare leanAbout LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as the new Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Innovation and Improvement Services for KaiNexus.


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