My wife and I were in Boston over the weekend, as it was her fifth reunion from her MIT master’s program. I’m also an alum, but was considered a “guest” since I graduated 16 years ago from my program and you don’t have to have an MIT degree to know 16 divided by 5 is not an integer.
Last week, I had the opportunity to spend a day with my Healthcare Kaizen co-author Joe Swartz and his colleagues at one of the three hospitals in the Franciscan St. Francis Health system. It was my second visit and, like the first, it reinforced my view that a culture of continuous improvement really is possible – and when you see it, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s even better to work in it.
People often say Lean is pretty simple (or that it’s just “common sense“). Yeah, some of the concepts are simple… but sometimes deceptively so. Or, we find that it’s easier to describe Lean (as a management system, a set of methods, and a culture) than it is to say how an organization should transform itself from here to there.
Last Thursday, Joe Swartz and I presented about “Kaizen Coaching” at the annual Shingo Institute Conference.
In the start of our breakout session, I made a point I usually make, something I learned from Norman Bodek:
“A suggestion is something for you to do,
an idea is something I can do.”
The point is that a suggestion is often just thrown at the manager as something for them to do. The employee is powerless, unfortunately, to do anything about the problem they want to solve, even if they would want to.
In contrast, an idea is something that I can at least help implement. Most of the time, employees can help implement improvements in a Kaizen system, if they don’t completely lead it. Sometimes, however, a manager must step in and help as a servant leader. In the old suggestion box system, it was assumed employees were incapable. That mindset changes in Kaizen.
But, I got an interesting question in the hallway after the talk.
There’s a great piece, currently available for free on the HBR website, about continuous improvement:
The author, George Halvorson, is the recently retired CEO of Kaiser Permanente and it’s really helpful that he is writing about the power of a culture of continuous improvement. Here are some highlights from the column and my comments.
MP3 File (run time 25:14)
Joining me once again for episode #176 is my good friend Norman Bodek, who has been a guest many times here. Today, we are talking about his latest book, The Harada Method: The Spirit of Self-Reliance. You can also learn more about the book and Norman’s workshops at his website, PCSPress.com. As always, it’s great to hear Norman talk about his interests and what he has learned in his trips to Japan, including Harada’s work.
For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/176.
For earlier episodes, visit the main Podcast page, which
The team at KaiNexus (where I am the “chief improvement officer”) is always improving. I want to share a few of these improvements, as our CEO/co-founder Greg Jacobson, MD and I are presenting today at the annual conference of the Texas Association for Healthcare Quality.
We have two really cool new features: 1) virtual badges for individual users and 2) the ability to selectively share improvements outside of your own organization.
There are many articles written about collaborative “ideation” systems (sometimes referred as “crowdsourcing”) – web and software systems that allow ideas to bubble up from a large population of employees. I’d call these “suggestions,” per Norman Bodek’s definition that ideas are things I can do, suggestions are things somebody else needs to do.
Saw this in the most recent Fast Company: Is Your Manager A Creativity Killer? If the manager is something like a case study from the book The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, then the answer is probably yes.
Norm Bodek always teaches that everybody is creative… we just get it drummed out of us by school and the workplace. As Dr. Deming taught, intrinsic motivation can only go DOWN over time… an organization can only hope to not de-motivate people and I’d assume there’s a corollary that you can only avoid making people less creative – you can’t make them more creative.
The three short stories in the FC piece illustrate why.
Update 5/1/12 – more auctions!
Back in October, we raised about $1000 for Friends of the Orphans through a charity auction, for which authors and publishers generously donated books.
Now, I’m happy to present another auction that comes as a result of me “5S-ing” my home office as my wife and I prepare for our move to San Antonio. I had duplicate copies of many great books – some due to getting a free review copy from a publisher and some due to me “losing” the book and re-purchasing it (I know, tsk tsk, not very Lean of me).
I’m auctioning some great sets (batches?) of books – they all end roughly 10 PM EDT on Sunday May 6. I will donate free standard shipping for U.S.-based winners. If you want expedited U.S. shipping or any form international shipping, I’d ask that you pay the actual cost.
Here are the auction details:
My co-author, Joe Swartz, and I did a soft launch a few weeks back, but we’re happy to announce that the full website for our upcoming book Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Improvements is live at www.HCkaizen.com. Details were in my email newsletter that went out today (sign up here), but I’ll fill you in, as a valued blog reader, as well.
Here’s a snapshot of the site (click the picture to go there).
MP3 File (run time 30:18)
Episode #141 is a chat with Norman Bodek, as he shares his recollections of working with Taiichi Ohno, one of the creators of the Toyota Production System. Norman met and worked with Ohno in Japan and then published the translation of Ohno’s classic book “Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production” in 1988.
For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/141.
For earlier episodes, visit the main Podcast page, which
Hat tip to John Shook and the Lean Enterprise Institute for pointing this out via his email newsletter — today would have been the 100th birthday of Taiichi Ohno, usually credited as one of the creators of the Toyota Production System, the basis for “Lean.”
See his profile on Wikipedia — Taiichi Ohno (February 29, 1912 – May 28, 1990)
Today is a good day to reflect on what we’ve learned from Ohno. I will go grab a book off the shelf and you can read some of Ohno for free via Google Books. You can also buy books by him or about him via Amazon.com (affiliate link). Please add your thoughts and reflections as a comment to this post. What did you learn from Ohno and how have you applied it? I’ll update the post with my thoughts.
I spent Monday and Tuesday in lovely Phoenix at the ASQ Lean and Six Sigma annual conference. I saw mant friends there, including Karen Martin, former (and possibly future) guest blogger Mike Lopez, and Tony Manos from 5S Supply. The conference was kicked off by a great keynote by Ari Weinzwei, a founder and CEO of the amazing Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor and I’ll blog about that real soon.
As tends to happen at conferences, I also ran into some folks I have met once or twice before. I can be really bad about connecting a name to a face when I’m surprised to bump into a familiar face. I try to cheat and glance at the conference name tag when I can… but more often than not, the dang thing is turned around backward, so you can’t read the name! I came up with a “quick and easy kaizen” to try to address this in a simple, inexpensive way.
There was a nice article in the Wall Street Journal this week about the Boeing 737 and some of their Lean and Kaizen (continuous improvement) work: “Boeing Teams Speed Up 737 Output — Jet Maker’s Innovation Crews Search for Ways to Streamline Production as Aircraft Demand Soars.” Boeing needs to increase production by more than 70%, so the company is looking to “rally employees for ways to make its jets more efficiently and avoid expanding its factories and its costs.”
Our good friend Norman Bodek asked me to share this with you about the Harada Method, which (as he says) “promises to create workers who are masters of their positions and champions of continuous improvement — at little to no cost.”
You can read an article about this at IndustryWeek: “How America Can Fight Back Against Low-Cost Labor in China” and you can also register for a free webinar on the Harada Method.
‘Management by walking around’ is hardly ever effective. The reason is that someone in management, walking around, has little idea about what questions to ask, and usually does not pause long enough at any spot to get the right answer.”
-W. Edwards Deming, “Out of the Crisis
I volunteered to give a presentation last Friday for the North Texas Society for Healthcare Risk Management, where I was able to debut some new material from our upcoming book, Healthcare Kaizen. These continuous improvement methods are a great way for front-line staff and leaders to both identify risks, allowing them to take action to prevent those problems from occurring.
I asked the audience a question that was answered by show of hands. I think we had about 200 people in the room and maybe half were from healthcare (the rest were attorneys). I asked how many had some sort of formal idea or suggestion program for front-line staff.