“Healthcare Kaizen” Book Update – The Manuscript is Submitted!


It's a project that my co-author, Joe Swartz, and I have been working on all year… the manuscript is finally complete and sent (as a big batch!) to our publisher. I'm talking about our upcoming book, “Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements.” It will likely be out in April 2012, but you can actually pre-order it via Amazon.com. Sign up for email updates and be one of the first to get the free PDF preview of Chapter 1.

Joe and I will both be blogging a lot about Kaizen and continuous improvement for healthcare over the next six months and beyond. I'll share a little more about the book here in this post.

“Kaizen” is a Japanese word that means “continuous improvement.” After getting a lot of feedback, both positive and negative, from people, we decided to lead with the word Kaizen in the title. Joe and I have both learned personally from Norman Bodek, who uses the word, and we also stand on the shoulders of Masaaki Imai, whose book Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success  is now 25 years old. I saw a tweet the other day that said Imai, Jon Miller, and the Kaizen Institute are working on a revised edition of his followup book, Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense, Low-Cost Approach to Management.

Joe and I are thrilled that both Bodek and Imai have contributed introductory / foreword material for the book.

Kaizen is an international philosophy. There are roots in Americans like Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Toyota and the Japanese have clearly made great contributions, and the philosophies of Lean and Kaizen have spread around the world and across industries. The word and the Japanese characters aren't meant to scare people off. To be successful with Kaizen, we have to be open to new ideas, and includes words from other languages. We say “gemba” a few times in the book (the word for “the actual place where work is done”) — in healthcare, this is the point of patient care, a hospital lab, or a medical records department. This is where improvement happens, a collaboration between staff, their teammates, and their superivisors.

We will share more about the book over time. A few key points:

This is a book about real-world practice. Joe Swartz brings tons of experiences, quotes, and Kaizen examples from his 5 years of working for the Franciscan St. Francis Health System in Indiana. They have primarily (but not exclusively) used the Quick and Easy Kaizen  method popularized by Bodek.

The book focuses mainly on daily continuous improvement while recognizing that weeklong “rapid improvement events” (I'm not using the term “Kaizen Event” anymore, since it's a misnomer) are a piece of the improvement puzzle. Events and daily continuous improvement go hand in hand.

There are lessons learned, data, and examples from organizations including ThedaCare, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle  Children's  Hospital, Children's Medical Center Dallas, a number of international hospitals and more. They share the methods they have used, including visual idea boards, A3 reports, and other methods for managing, documenting, and sharing Kaizen improvements.

The book tries to make a clear distinction between the outdated “suggestion box” system and how Kaizen is managed differently, the mechanics and the philosophy of it.

There's a large focus on culture, philosophy, and the role of leaders – both locally in a department and the overall Kaizen program for an organization. Yet, we share dozens and dozens (I need to count them, maybe 100?) examples of REAL Kaizen examples from healthcare — not so you can copy the specific examples, but rather so you can see the method illustrated and inspire your own changes. As Norman Bodek always emphasizes, sometimes it's OK to copy… but we know our readers won't shut off their brains. The real power is learning how to practice Kaizen. We expect our readers will build upon the book and develop their own methods that work for them… and we hope people will share their lessons in an online community we will build around the book.

I'm excited about the book. Thanks to Joe, I couldn't have done this without his hard work and the support of his senior leaders at Franciscan. We'll share more and discuss some key points here on the blog. I hope we can make continuous improvement a more widespread reality in healthcare…

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  1. Dean Bliss says

    The new book sounds great. Looking forward to seeing the results of your work.

  2. Eva says

    I await your text, and I would appreciate the that Japanese name. :)

  3. Andy Brophy says

    Congratulations Mark, great feeling I’m sure to get the book submiitted. Really looking forward to it and its contribution to this great philosophy. Andy

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