My Interview in Healthcare Construction + Operations News


Q&A Nov/Dec 2008 – Trimming the Fat

I was featured in Healthcare Construction + Operations News in a recent issue where we talked about my book and Lean in healthcare.

You can read the whole thing for free, here is one Q & A:

Q: Do you see a lot of frustration, and where does lean fit with that?

A: In hospitals, you find employees who are frustrated for different reasons and lean is brought in as a way of addressing that. Very often, because people in healthcare care so much and work so hard, a lot of their effort is spent fighting the system and processes in the system in which they are working.

An example is when supplies, materials and medications are not in the right place when they are needed. When you look at layout and workplace design issues, people constantly have to walk back and forth because of poor layout decisions. People get kind of worn out with the accumulated frustration.

Lean allows people to come in and improve systems and processes instead of just fighting the same fires everyday. Lean helps us get to the root of the problems and put better systems in place.

Healthcare workers also complain that their managers won't listen to ideas that they have for making things better. A lot of the focus of lean is based on teaching managers or supervisors to start tapping into their employees' ideas. Nurses, pharmacy techs or patient care techs can be engaged to fix the system and to get them past the point where they feel they are not being heard.

Help spread the word about Lean in healthcare, whether you're inside the industry or outside. This really is a global movement. My book is almost sold out through the Australia distributor at the moment and I got a nice email from a blog reader who emailed the Swedish health minister about Lean and my book. We really need Lean in healthcare, whether you are an employee or a potential patient.

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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. Agree on spreading the word, Mark. I attended a community meeting held by the Obama/Biden transition team on healthcare, and I emphasized the need to bring the performance improvement philosophy and tools to healthcare. I also wrote to my senators and congressman to ask them to assist in any way possible. We can do this.

  2. Dean, that’s great. I was brainstorming the other day about how we can do more to influence the Obama administration.

    At the risk of being somewhat self-serving, I was going to send a book to my congressman (Rep. Burgess, TX), who is an MD actually.


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