Lean is Not Sustainable, Except When It Is
I was really, Really, REALLY puzzled by the first line in this article, that read:
“Lean, Six Sigma and Toyota Production System applications have simply not proven sustainable in health care. While a number of stand-alone projects dot the case study landscape, only a few can point to strategic impact beyond 18 months.”
Strangely enough, this is written by Lean authors and Lean consultants.
That first sentence must be a typo or some bad editing, as the authors then go on the spell out six ways that sustainability can be increased.
I know, first hand, that Lean efforts are being sustained in many hospitals. Yes, sustainability is difficult and some hospital efforts fade away due to factors including a change in hospital or department leadership. Sometimes Lean dies because it was only focused on eliminating waste and it ignored the “respect for people” side of Lean.
What are you doing to help increase your hospital's chances of sustaining Lean? Are you thinking about this from the start?
When in the The Netherlands back in June, I asked a hospital CFO what his best accomplishment was in their Lean efforts. He answered, “Making sure Lean won't die when my future replacement takes over.”