Continuing my series of blog posts about my July trip to China, today’s post is about my first significant walk through a hospital during the trip.
My group had a chance to visit the First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University.
Continuing my series of blog posts about my July trip to China, today’s post is about the second city I visited: Shanghai. This post has some photos and descriptions of the high-speed train trip and other travel-related details. You can also read previous posts about the Lean healthcare conference that was held in Beijing on the first day.
Continuing to go through my notes, picking up from my last post…
The presenter said something that’s certainly a familiar challenge with facilities here in the U.S.:
‘”Patients often get lost due a lack of good signs.”
Continuing from Part 1 of my post about my first day of my first China trip, I’d like to share more about the Lean healthcare conference and presentations that took place.
In the next presentation from a Chinese hospital, the speaker started talking about the need to “improve [patient and employee] satisfaction through Lean management” and that “we have the same goals and purpose” as I expressed in my presentation… namely safety, quality, waiting times, cost, and employee morale (SQDCM).
After arriving to the hotel in Beijing at about 8 pm the night before, I participated in a day long Lean Healthcare conference that very next morning. I’m glad I always presented in the mornings, because I was always fresh (I woke up before my alarm each morning) and was groggy every afternoon thanks to jet lag.
I just returned on Wednesday from my first trip to China to meet with people and give presentations about Lean in healthcare. It was a whirlwind to say the least. I spent nearly as much time traveling as I did talking to people about Lean and healthcare improvement, but it was worth it.
I’m back from vacation and, as with any good vacation, I’m trying to get back into the swing of things with work and the blog. Thanks again to all of my great guest bloggers from the past two weeks.
One thing that was waiting for us when my wife and I returned was the Chinese translation of my first book Lean Hospitals. Click the photo for a larger view of the cover. This is the second translation that I have officially received from my publisher (following the Turkish translation) and there are more in the works.
Being on vacation was a great opportunity to relax and get recharged. But, it’s always hard to turn off one’s Lean thinking, even when away from work… so this blog post is primarily about a really fun and tasty “gemba” in France.
Here are links to some more articles I’ve read recently that might be of interest on a number of Lean related topics:Twin boys die after morphine overdose (understaffing, poor training, & other system issues) Two years on, gov’t says it’s Leaner
There has been a lot of buzz over last Sunday’s New York Times article “How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work.” It’s good to see issues of manufacturing competitiveness talked about in the media and among my Facebook friends who usually aren’t talking about factories. So why aren’t iPhones assembled here in the U.S.? Apple used to build Macs in California. I used to work for Dell when they built PCs in Texas. Now, Apple products are made by Foxconn in China and the Dell factory in Texas is now closed. My iMac, my Kindle Fire, and my iPhone – all made in China – in some conditions we would never tolerate here.
As I blogged about recently, Steve Jobs blamed the lack of U.S. production on a lack of skilled technical workers and supervisors and he said to President Obama, “those jobs aren’t coming back.” I questioned whether that is true, considering the U.S. has lost millions of manufacturing jobs due to the China trade deficit and there have got to be plenty of experienced people looking for work.
The NY Times article points out that producing in China isn’t just about low wages. It seems to me that it’s about the unfair advantages of a country where workers aren’t free. I’m all for companies making profits, but I wish those profits didn’t have to be made on the back of people suffering under the tyranny of a repressive, totalitarian, “Communist” government.
This week, I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of articles about working conditions at the Foxconn facilities in China. These stories are primarily focused on Apple, but nearly any computer, gadget, or mobile device is made there, ranging from iPhones to Android tablets to my Kindle Fire.
I have a longer blog post teed up that I might post tomorrow – a combination of some analysis with a bit of emotion, which I’m trying to temper.
The items that I’ve read (and you might want to read or listen too) include:
As I wrote about after his death, I am appreciative of the products and services that Steve Jobs brought to the world. That said, some of his behavior, as reported in the biography written by Walter Isaacson (the simply titled “Steve Jobs“) is less than admirable. Some felt the need to dance on his grave, but maybe enough time has passed where we can take a balanced view of his leadership approach, particularly in the manufacturing realm. Jobs isn’t really associated with the production of computers and devices – he’s known as a design guy and a software guy.
On Friday, there was yet another Wall Street Journal article about Lean (fixating as they always do on the “Just In Time” component). The article titled “For Lean Factories, No Buffer” yet again takes an outdated 1980s view that Lean is about low inventory.
On the flip side, I was more pleasantly surprised that Fox News Channel aired video during an afternoon newscast about Lean. Fox News seems to think they have discovered some wild, new trend – although I shouldn’t pick on them too much since they did a nice job with a news story in 2009 about Lean healthcare (view video excerpts here and here).
OK, so I’ll admit I had a case of “rabbit ears” when I took the WSJ to task for calling the doomed BP Deepwater Horizon rig a “lean” operation. They were using the colloquial everyday use of “lean,” a term that can get in the way of understanding the real “lean manufacturing” principles and approaches based on the Toyota Production System.
The WSJ, though, has a track record of being horribly wrong about lean manufacturing, you almost wonder if it’s intentional or if it’s bad reporting (it’s multiple reporters who are guilty of this). Thursday’s article about Apple is another case of this –> (“Gadget Appetite Strains Suppliers“).
In an era where it was a “no brainer” to move factories to China, chasing cheap labor, the Lean world has often spoken out loudly against this. Back in the day, people said “Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM,” in this era you might say “No CEO ever got fired for moving factories to China. Wall Street applauds the “cost cutting” without looking at the tradeoffs.
China brings cheaper labor (increasingly less so now), but also brings long lead times across the ocean, intellectual property risks, and other challenges (including environmental risks, pictured at left). It’s easier to quantify labor cost savings than it is to quantify the business risk of responding slowly to changes in the market.
Yesterday was iPad debut day – the new product was in stores and was supposed to arrive to those who pre-ordered it via UPS. UPS… on a Saturday? Doesn’t that cost a shipper (Apple) more for Saturday? I wonder why launch day wasn’t a Tuesday? Then again, more people are home on Saturdays, of course, so maybe it makes sense if customers value Saturday, even if costs are higher.
That’s the first of a number of random thoughts about the iPad, not all about shipping. I had a chance to play with an iPad for about 10 minutes at the Apple Store. I resisted the urge to buy one… did any of you get one?
Yesterday, I recorded a podcast with Jim D’Addario, CEO of the namesake multi-generational family company that was featured recently on CNN. I’ll release that podcast in a few weeks. We had a great conversation that went into more detail about how his company uses Lean as a strategy for competing against cheap labor (and slow supply chains) that are part of the Chinese outsourcing model.
Lean thinkers know that cheap labor isn’t everything, especially when you have to be responsive to customer needs. The linked article from Reuters highlights other companies using Lean as a competitive strategy.
Interesting story here in IndustryWeek, generally talking about the state of manufacturing in China, but turning its eye to Lean:
When it comes to the current state of Chinese manufacturing efficiency, David Hemmings, president and CEO of consulting firm Pacific Rim Alliance, says, ‘Chinese companies, when compared to Western productivity numbers, are still very inefficient despite a great workforce ethic. It doesn’t matter if wages are only $1.25 an hour if there are 2,000 extra people working to make up for their inefficiencies.’
Lean thinkers have long advocated the benefits of having a shorter supply chain — faster response, keeping jobs at home, being close to the customer, and better quality. Add high oil prices (and resulting transportation costs) to the list, as rising energy costs are causing many to re-think their offshoring of production to low labor cost countries. From the WSJ: