Be Careful with Copying
I got into the middle of this discussion on the Healthcare Management Engineers (HME) group on Yahoo.
A question was posed:
We're in the process of designing a new facility for a small group of family practice physicians. I'm primarily concerned with a layout that enables optimal workflow. Do you know of any articles/research that may help? Do you have or know of any specific layouts/blueprints that intentionally considered workflow design using Lean principles? Is that blueprint something you may share?
My response, which got a few “amen” emails from other readers:
Unfortunately, there are no short cuts to this process. Copying someone else's layout may end up being suboptimal for your needs.
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When I take healthcare teams through layout exercises, you have to first observe and identify the waste in the current process:
Wasted walking and motion for staff and patients (due to room locations or supplies/equipment locations)
Can you design standardized and multifunctional rooms instead of separate specialized rooms?
Can you impact the process to improve flow so less waiting room space is needed?
You should look at the process before designing new space. There is an example of an E.D. going through this same process in my book.
Should the patient move multiple times or stay put in a single space, with all caregivers coming to them?
Does the layout give room for volume growth? What happens if business increases 30%?
You have to look at the flow of people, the flow of materials, and the flow of information — that will point your layout in the right direction.
You can learn from the layouts and lessons of others, but be careful about copying too closely.
The original poster accused me of endorsing “corporate amnesia.” Far from it, if you read the last sentence of what I wrote. I just see this far too often, someone writes a message that implies they want to copy instead of learn. Maybe I unfair implied the original author of the question was leaning that way. But after seeing umpteen questions like, “I'm looking for a West Virginia based manufacturer of plumbing supplies, revenue under $200M, one that also has plants in Malaysia, run by a left-handed COO, that I can benchmark.” To me, that reads “copy.”
I really do think there are no shortcuts. Maybe I should re-name this blog “No Shortcuts.” Nah.
Where do you find the proper balance in learning from others versus using Lean analysis methods to figure it out yourself?