Networking with Bison and Doctors


Lean Leap to Health Care #3 (click for Part #2)

by Scott McDuffee

It would seem to be an efficient method to move into Health Care to PUSH my resume to as many potential employers as possible – thus increasing the odds until a match is made. Although I can´t neglect the job boards like or, this approach is batching at its finest. In reaction to a job post, a few quick clicks and my resume is blasted but so were a thousand others.

Daily, I receive job listing e-mails based on my criteria from the various job boards. I had to add a “do not include” sort to remove the many RN jobs. With practice, reactive resume blasting becomes efficient but not necessarily effective. Point velocity can be achieved but the whole system is not valuable, capable, available, adequate, flexible, and linked by continuous flow as perfect processes should be as described in the paper Going Lean in Health Care.

Steven J. Spear's Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System suggests we 1) Structure every activity, 2) Clearly connect every supplier/customer relationship, 3) Simplify every flow and process, and 4) Experiment at the lowest level possible in the pursuit of perfection. For our lean leap to Health Care, principles 1, 2, and 3 press toward binary feedback which could just lead us more quickly to the dreaded NO JOBS HERE / NOT HIRING. Principle 4 may be the most appropriate for Health Care job searching. Experiment at the lowest level possible in the pursuit of a career!

It is advantageous to create PULL through networking. Even then, most people assume they should just send a resume to a prospective network contact.

Most contacts are put off by a direct job question or when they receive a resume with this request – please look at my resume and let me know if you have anything available at your company. Yeah, let me give this to HR's TRASH BIN!

Instead, networking consists of reaching out to get company/industry information, understanding applicable future directions, building contacts / rapport, and looking for next level decision-makers. Hopefully, this experimentation leads to a PULL signal for a job created for you, an unpublished job, or at least someone on the inside looking out for your interests during the formal job process.

One of the keys to making network contacts is to openly admit to not having a job to acquaintances and strangers. This is not as easy as it might sound at first (literal) blush. Frankly, a lot of our ego and personal identity is wrapped up in our job self. Being “affected by the economy” is the standard and legitimate answer but it takes a while to emotionally move from this feeling personal to the point you realize it’s REALLY just business – as the axe is swinging, it cuts muscle as well as fat.

So, there I was standing at another softball practice humbly admitting I was searching. Dan and I had always had a connection probably due to us both being football and track stars (at least in our own minds) back in our glory days. As it turns out, Dan is an anesthesiologist at one of the large Health Care companies near the top of my marketing plan.

Previously, Dan mentioned an interest in bison in response to a photography excursion I described. A plan began brewing in my mind. I invited Dan to a morning at the nature center on the other side of town. We would walk trails, see the bison, and I would pick his brain about hospitals from his direct experience. He obviously wasn't the decision-maker but he could lead to one.

After a discussion with various park personnel about raising and ranching bison (Dan plans to own some eventually), Dan shared the transitions of hospital consolidation, the dynamics of the day-to-day, the challenges of un-shared best practices, and the distance and disconnectedness of the Quality Improvement (QI) function.

From Dan, I got the impression the quality department in this hospital organization was not unlike the quality department in many traditional factories. They worked on departmental strategies and function-specific projects but rarely observed the process or talked to the people, and probably even more rarely engaged people in organic incremental improvement to continually bring more value to the patient / customer.

QI led powerful sounding initiatives from a corporate office but they didn't live in gemba and thus didn't involve the people necessary for the best insights and who, most importantly, would be needed to sustain a lean conversion. Lots of frosting, very little cupcake.

Along with some great pictures, I left the bison with the affirmation that Health Care has problems I have experience solving. I gained insights as well as a contact could be an upward spiral toward a role or decision-maker.

Dan left with an understanding of how lean could change hospitals and a stack of my new “Lean Change Leader” business cards from He requested a resume to send to a prominent doctor who had connections and influence.

Instead, I said “Could you set up a networking discussion?”

Part 4: Hospital Coach

Scott McDuffee is an experienced Lean professional who is currently searching for a new career opportunity. He is based in Mansfield, TX.”


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Scott McDuffee
Scott is a Lean Change Leader who has worked in multiple manufacturing sectors. He blogged primarily about his steps taken to investigate switching into healthcare in 2009.



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