One-Question Poll on Healthcare Employee Idea & Suggestion Programs


I volunteered to give a presentation last Friday for the North Texas Society for Healthcare Risk Management, where  I was able to debut some new material from our upcoming book, Healthcare Kaizen. These continuous improvement methods are a great way for front-line staff and leaders to both identify risks, allowing them to take action to prevent those problems from occurring.

I asked the audience a question that was answered by show of hands. I think we had about 200 people in the room and maybe half were from healthcare (the rest were attorneys). I asked how many had some sort of formal idea or suggestion program for front-line staff.

About 10 hands went up.

I then asked how many of those programs were really effective. All hands went down.

Is that surprising to you, as a reader?

I think most healthcare organizations wished they could engage front-line staff in an effective improvement program. But, I think many of those organizations have used the “suggestion box” model, which I argue is outdated and completely dysfunctional. We need real Kaizen – the methods from Toyota and leaders like Masaaki Imai and Norman Bodek.

Readers, please answer this survey – and only if you work in healthcare. You can also comment on the blog post, regardless of your industry (but please identify if you are healthcare or not).

[polldaddy poll=5530478]


My co-author, Joe Swartz, and I hope our book can make a difference in creating more effective Kaizen throughout healthcare. Sign up to get more info about our book… should be out in April 2012.

Interested in kaizen for healthcare? You might also be interested in KaiNexus, a startup I am working for.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

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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. Mark,

    Two of my executives took information about the Mitsubishi ideas program from a lean conference and implemented an ideas program using lean management tools. We went online a few weeks ago and are getting regular ideas from staff. We are training staff how to use the ideas database. We still use our A-3’s for most initiatives, but some improvements are small (but we want them desperately) and we needed a means for encouraging idea sharing and organizational knowledge. We believe it’s an outstanding concept and are hard at work to make it successful. Nice post and thanks for sharing.


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