VIBCO Helping Spread the Word About Lean in Healthcare


After two visits and gemba walks, I've become a big fan of the Lean work that's taking place at VIBCO, a manufacturer in Rhode Island. The best thing that I've seen is not the use of Lean tools, but the culture change. For example, having production associates show me the ideas they've implemented and seeing the pride on their faces is pretty special.

Their President, Karl Wadensten, is a strong advocate for Lean, not just inside VIBCO, but in the broader R.I. business community and he's also working to promote Lean in healthcare through is radio show, “The Lean Nation” and other activities.

One of those is a site visit that he hosted on December 1 at the VIBCO facility. Here, we'll start to share some video from that afternoon.

From the VIBCO Lean website:

Under Karl's leadership, VIBCO is now a high performing business culture where lead times for over 1,300 SKUs have dropped from 4-6 weeks to “same day, next day”, inventory has been reduced by more than 50%, over 10,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing floor space is now freed up to accept future growth, and sales are well above industry trends.   These impressive improvements are the result of a workforce that is empowered to improve every day and understands the power of Lean Thinking.

Here are the first two videos from the December 1 day that I was able to participate in:

Karl's introduction to the event and the series:


Q&A #1: Engaging physicians in Lean (with Mark Graban and Joe Murli):

The audio on the Q&A isn't great… I cleaned it up the best I could. It's an improvement  opportunity for VIBCO in the future to have a microphone right at the table. I'm sure they will do that.


Q&A #2: The balance between technical lean and focus on the patient (with Bill White):


Stay tuned for more videos in the series.

Here is one more short video about VIBCO, as an overview, including a quote from a visiting plastic surgeon:


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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.



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