I’ve been fortunate to partner up with other artists before and today’s cartoon is a new collaboration with Carrie Howarth, CMA (AAMA), a workflow facilitator at a health system in Florida.
A creative moment often occurs over a glass of wine with colleagues. We were talking about the Lean practice of “strategy deployment” and how senior executives review key metrics on a monthly basis or more frequently.
It’s often said that strategy deployment is a “management by exception” process, where leaders are supposed to focus first on metrics that are “in the red,” meaning behind plan or below a target. Let’s ignore, for the moment, the Deming argument against comparison to potentially arbitrary targets.
Ack, this intro is going longer than I wanted.
So, we have metrics that are “red” or “green” in status. There is some controversy over the use of “yellow” as an intermediate zone for a metric. More on that in a bit.
At this dinner, I wondered aloud, “What would happen if a dog was reviewing the red and green metrics??” There was laughter around the table (it could have been the wine).
Long story short, it led to me reaching to Carrie to partner up on a cartoon. She’s involved with Lean, has a great perspective on it, is funny (in her tweets), and is an artist. It led to this, an homage to The New Yorker’s famous cartoon “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
I know a joke isn’t really funny if you have to explain the joke… but it’s “common knowledge” that dogs are color blind. The dog would just see a bunch of “grey” metrics and wouldn’t know how to react.
In reality, dogs can see a LIMITED color spectrum, not just grey. I didn’t know that until a few days ago.
As described at dog-vision.com, this limited visibility means that red and green both appear YELLOW to a dog. It goes to show how “common knowledge” and “conventional wisdom” can be wrong, eh?
So, we’d have the same outrageous, but funny, situation where the dog would see metrics that are all yellow, in that range of not being good enough to be green, but not being bad enough to be red. Yellow, yellow, and yellow instead of red, yellow, and green.
Anyhoo, I hope my over-explaining hasn’t killed the joke. As I explained to Carrie when I pitched the idea, this joke is probably very funny to maybe 17 people in the world. If you don’t get it… go learn more about strategy deployment. One resource is a DVD that I produced when I worked for LEI, sold by the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value: “THINKING LEAN AT THEDACARE: STRATEGY DEPLOYMENT.”
You can see more of Carrie’s artwork on her Tumblr site: http://theorganconspiracy.tumblr.com/
We’re working on a second cartoon (my concept again, her wonderful artwork). Time will tell if time allows for this to become any sort of regular series or anything.
Caption Contest, Coffee Mugs, and Prints:
I played around with many different captions for the cartoon, including:
- “So how am I supposed to react to the metrics that are grey?”
- “You said to only discuss the metrics in the red, but what about the grey ones?”
- “You said to only bark at the metrics in the red, but what about the grey ones?”
If you can come up with a BETTER caption, leave a comment below. The best caption, if deemed (by me) to be funnier will receive a LeanBlog coffee mug with the cartoon on it.
You can also order a mug for yourself, if you like. One is on the way to Carrie as my thanks! I’m splitting proceeds with her 50/50 on any sales.
Video of the Day:
Tweet of the Day:
— Carrie Howarth (@CarrieHowarth1) August 15, 2014
I think the tweet was inspired by my recent article: “Standardization is a Countermeasure, Never the Goal“
About 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 Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Customer Success for the technology company KaiNexus. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.