New DVD – “Thinking Lean at ThedaCare: Strategy Deployment”


Sorry for what might seem like a very promotional post, but I'm happy to share some details with you about a project I've been deeply involved in – a new DVD produced by the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value about Lean management and “strategy deployment” at ThedaCare, the leading Lean healthcare system from Wisconsin.

The DVD, called “Thinking Lean at ThedaCare: Strategy Deployment,” went on sale for $199 on Tuesday at (the Lean Enterprise Institute is acting as the primary distributor for the DVD).

You can also buy it directly from the ThedaCare Center.

We think this DVD is ground-breaking because it takes you to multiple “gemba” locations within ThedaCare's executive offices and Appleton Medical Center. In the video, you hear leaders at multiple levels of the organization talking about how strategy deployment creates alignment – including former CEO John Toussaint MD, current CEO Dean Gruner, MD, COO Matt Furlan, and two first-level managers.

The leaders talk about how strategy and “true north” performance measures are developed in a collaborative way that is both top-down AND bottom-up. You'll hear these leaders talk about how they develop objectives and performance measures and how they make sure that larger improvement projects and smaller daily improvements are aligned with the organization's overall goals and strategy. It's pretty special to see a nursing unit manager describe how her team's goals and improvements impact their patients AND how it aligns with ThedaCare's overall strategy.

You can see the full first chapter online:


And you can also see a video with clips from each of the DVD's chapters:

So what do you think? I'm curious to hear your feedback about the clips and the concept of the DVD itself.

I'm also curious for feedback about whether your organization uses strategy deployment (a.k.a. hoshin kanri or policy deployment) – in healthcare or otherwise… does strategy deployment make sure that you don't just have a bunch of random improvements taking place? Do you think strategy deployment could help in your workplace?

One other question for discussion — healthcare has done a lot to learn from manufacturing and other industries. Do you think manufacturing companies would be willing to use healthcare examples to learn about strategy deployment?

I hope this DVD helps educate healthcare leaders that Lean is about more than just tools and projects – that, at its best, it's an integrated management system and a culture. When we set out to make a video “about strategy deployment,” it quickly turned into a video “about Lean” as it's hard to separate strategy deployment from the general Lean thinking that's taking place at ThedaCare.

Personally, I don't deserve any credit for what ThedaCare is done. I've been lucky to visit numerous occasions and the culture there always impresses me. I'm happy to play the role of reporter, working with the video producers to share the good work and the good thinking from ThedaCare, their leaders, and their team members.

You can also learn more about ThedaCare and their Lean journey from the book On the Mend: Revolutionizing Healthcare to Save Lives and Transform the Industry, published by LEI.

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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. I think they look great. The opportunity to learn about the great work they have done is valuable. I would imagine those that are not truly interesting in lean management won’t look outside their industry without trying to avoid doing so. But those actually interested in learning lean that have made even minor progress along the path to knowledge know that learning from different industries is very valuable and will not be reluctant at all.

  2. My organization has struggled with strategy deployment. The big issue is that leadership often does not know enough about strategy in the first place. The second issue is that many simply cannot get past the complexity of the health care system. A finally, few are willing to stick their neck out and say, “This is our focus – this is what is important and why it is important”.

    I recently recall reading about an army general that was given accolades for his decision making in a time of crisis (he was at a much lower rank at the time). His thinking was that in the heat of a battle when chaos abounds, you need to pick one clear goal and marshall your resources around it. He felt he had been lucky to pick a relavent goal, but the real accomplishment is having the nerve to pick something at the expense of all the other possible choices.

    I see health care as being in crisis, but I do not see the trade-offs in choices between goals as stark as the military example. Yet, all I seem to be hearing is one issue after another that needs to be a priority… but when everything is a priority, nothing is.

    • “but when everything is a priority, nothing is.”

      Amen to that. In healthcare, we need to find ways to simultaneously improve quality, access, and cost – and organizations like ThedaCare are delivering these “no tradeoffs” results with Lean.


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