Stuff I’m Reading – June 14, 2013: Sleepy Banker, Concerned Workers, Cost Diversity, Conference Diversity
It’s again time to close some browser tabs and clear out the backlog of articles I’ve wanted to share but maybe don’t merit an entire blog post…
It’s time again for “Stuff I’m Reading”… Click on any header for the article I’m referencing.
A banker fell asleep on his keyboard, in particular the “2” key, entering a transfer of 222,222,222.22 euros. A colleague was fired for not double-checking or confirming the error. That’s why it’s called “human error” – many types of human error involved in this case.
I guess that, considering last year’s blog post, this Lean thinker couldn’t really root for Notre Dame and Coach Brian Kelly Monday night in the BCS National Championship Game.
Just before kickoff, ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi asked Saban, “Coach, you love to talk about process… but this game is all about results. What do you need to do to win tonight’s game?”
I think I literally stopped and made this Scooby Doo sound after hearing “process”:
Process? You’re talking about process? Wow.
As the main days of the men’s NCAA basketball tourney (“March Madness”) start Thursday, here’s a topic that might make for fun Lean discussion at work or something that you might possibly bore people with at a tourney watching party or your local sports bar (hello, Cliff Clavin). ;-) As a sad aside, my Northwestern Wildcats didn’t make the tourney (it would have been their first-ever appearance).
This New York Times story (“Home-Court Edge Begins With Ball“) reveals a surprising detail about the balls used in the college game — they are not identical at each Division I school. This lack of standardization can provide a real edge to the home team, as the visitors might be thrown off by this.
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:
The outlook from a survey is bleak:
People of all ages, and across income levels, are unhappy with their supervisors, apathetic about their organizations and detached from what they do. And there’s no reason to think things will soon improve.
This has been sitting in my “to blog about” queue since March, but I wanted to catch up and post this article: “What Makes a Hospital Great” by Dr. Pauline Chen. Maybe it’s not very “lean” of me to have so much “work in process…. but back to the issue at hand. What DOES make a hospital grrrrreeat?
Is it technology that makes a hospital great? The top surgeons? The MRI machines? The building’s layout? The number of rooms?
Surprise, or maybe not a surprise to Lean Thinkers — it’s the culture.
You might have read my blog post from last week about an unsafe taxi driver and medical errors – Said the Unsafe Taxi Driver, “Well, Did I Hit Anybody?”
In a colossal coincidence, the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote a piece called “Giving Doctors Orders” that was published the exact same day. No, I’m not part of a “vast left-wing conspiracy” here. My post had YouTube videos of a bad driver, while Dowd name dropped the actor Alec Baldwin and cited him on how to confront unsafe cabbies. Data would probably show that systemically unsafe healthcare practices harm and kill more people each year and probably deserve more of our attention.
Today, I am recording a podcast interview with Prof. Samuel Culbert from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He is author of the recent NY Times piece “Why Your Boss Is Wrong About You” and the book Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing–and Focus on What Really Matters.
Is oatmeal good for you? It generally is…. well, unless it isn’t. Oatmeal can lower your cholesterol, is full of whole grains, and on its own isn’t sweet (it doesn’t HAVE to have tons of brown sugar added in).
This New York Times article, “How to Make Oatmeal . . . Wrong” points out the nutritional problems with McDonald’s oatmeal and fruit offering. Oatmeal purists argue that what McDonald’s is doing isn’t really oatmeal…
Which reminds me of some of the discussion that we have with Lean.
I’ll apologize if today’s post seems off-topic to my healthcare readers, but I have to share a link to a Sunday New York Times article about General Electric (“G.E. Goes With What It Knows: Making Stuff“).
After being seduced by the idea of making easy money through “financial engineering,” G.E. is relearning that there’s value in making stuff – a true “value added” activity that benefits society and our U.S. economy… increasingly building more of that stuff right here in the U.S. after chasing cheap labor around the world. This seems like good progress.
Hat tip to regular blog reader Andrew B. for letting me know that A17 of today’s New York Times was a full page ad placed by Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center, one of the leading examples of the use of Lean methods in healthcare.
The ad, pictured below, celebrates VMMC being named as one of two “Hospitals of the Decade” as determined by the Leapfrog Group. Click on the ad for a possibly readable view.
There was an interesting blog post at the New York Times: “The Doctor Is In (but Shouldn’t Be).” The piece talks about the healthcare cultural aspects that would drive or pressure a doctor to come to the hospital or the operating room, even if they’re sick.
Seems like common sense to stay away when sick, eh? Some researchers say this should be the norm, to stay away, but they seem to have an uphill fight against “the way it’s always been).
A number of readers emailed me a link to this New York Times article: “U.S. Inaction Lets Look-Alike Tubes Kill Patients.” The headline emphasizes the lack of governmental oversight, but I’d rather talk about the poor system design that allows deadly errors to occur.
The article describes an error where food was mistakenly injected into her veins:
… the hospital mixed up the tubes. Instead of snaking a tube through Ms. Rodgers’s nose and into her stomach, the nurse instead coupled the liquid-food bag to a tube that entered a vein.
Putting such food directly into the bloodstream is like pouring concrete down a drain. Ms. Rodgers was soon in agony.
Today’s New York Times has an outstanding article about Lean Healthcare and what Seattle Children’s Hospital calls C.P.I. or Continuous Performance Improvement.
The article: “Factory Efficiency Comes to the Hospital”
I wish the headline had also addressed quality, waiting time, and staff engagement, but the article body does, at least. The article highlights Seattle Children’s Hospital, as well as others, including members of the Healthcare Value Leaders Network (Park Nicollet, Akron Children’s, and Paul Levy‘s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center), and Virginia Mason . Yours truly is quoted in the article, as well.
At last week’s Shingo Prize conference, I was very excited to meet Dr. Stephen Covey (my podcast is here), but I was just as excited, if not more so, to meet Dr. Brent James, the noted healthcare quality expert from the Intermountain Healthcare system. Dr. James was on the cover of the New York Times Sunday magazine in November 2009 with the cover headline: “If healthcare care is going to change, his ideas will change it.”
Almost every healthcare quality leader I’ve met in the Lean world has gone through Dr. James’ famous quality improvement class in Utah, as described in the book The Best Practice: How the New Quality Movement is Transforming Medicine.
I’ll share some notes I took during his breakfast talk last Thursday.