A Lean Perspective on Employee Shortages


    I heard a great comment on Monday from a hospital President.

    He said, quite passionately, I might be paraphrasing slightly:

    “We don't have a shortage of nurses and other workers. What we have is a shortage of good management systems, like Lean.”

    His point was that if hospitals, nationwide, could reduce wasted motion and wasted effort, that we'd have enough nurses. Nurses spend a very high percentage of their time on things not directly related to patient care. Imagine your assembly line shutting down because operators are leaving the line to go get their own parts and supplies. That happens all the time in hospitals, taking nurses away from patients and value added care because we don't properly support them with Lean processes.

    I was reading Bob Emiliani's book “Real Lean” last night on the plane and there was a great related comment in there (again, might be paraphrasing):

    If employees truly are our most important asset, why do we allow so much of their time to be consumed by wasteful activities?

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    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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