A Powerful Message on Lean and Healthcare


Why I Work In Healthcare | DailyKaizen

Here's a great one to end the day on… Lee Fried has a powerful post over on the DailyKaizen blog. Some unfortunately heartache for him and his family, but an important reminder of why this stuff is so important (and why Lean is so powerful in helping).

Go to his site to read the whole post and the story behind it, but he's spot on about this (and everything he wrote, actually). Lee said:

I often find myself debating with people within my industry whether standard work can be applied to patient care. I often hear back that it does not apply because “no two patients are the same” or “healthcare is far too complex for standard work” to work. This argument is frustrating and we need to find ways to put to rest. I am sure that every industry has heard the same exact argument about why standard processes can not be applied in their field. I was telling my neighbor about what happened and he confirmed that in his industry (aerospace) twenty years ago it was the same story. “Airplanes are far to complex to be built by standard processes.”

Yes, let's put the argument to rest. Lean *does* work in healthcare. Standardized Work is saving lives in many ways, including “checklists.” We need more of this in healthcare and fewer obstacles.

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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.


  1. Mark, I have been working in a healthcare environment as a supply chain consultant for over 17 years now and the majority of the work is implementing “Standardized Processes.” When I train my clients in our VA processes (standardized) I always make the point that if we did not have “A Process” then the team or VA program would be all over the place and totally unmanageable. Plus, it is hard enough keeping improvement processes rolling in the right direction without the standardized processes, not to mention being able to support the processes as well. If everyone is “Winging-It” then you may get some low hanging fruit as far as objectives are concerned but will never get the major goals accomplished without a rock solid process like Lean.


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