Webinar Recording from a University of Michigan Health System Lean Leader


Yesterday, the MIT SDM program hosted a webinar by Dr. Jack Billi from University of Michigan. I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Billi a few times during my involvement in the Healthcare Value Network. He is an extremely thoughtful and passionate Lean leader for both the health system and the medical school.

You can listen and watch the recording of the webinar via this link – “Using Lean Thinking to Transform a Large Academic Medical Center” – or it's embedded below.  It's well worth the time. You can also read Paul Levy's summary and notes from watching the webinar via these two blog links: (First  | Second).

One thing that stood out to me from the webinar was Dr. Billi's  humility in talking about their learning and progress throughout their lean journey. They didn't have everything figured out from the start and they been willing to adapt and learn in a very high level PDSA cycle, if you will. Part of their progress has been the recognition that lean has to be more than projects and events led by a few specialized leaders. Their goal is to have everybody (20,000 people) be a problem solver in their own work every single day. To me, that's a more accurate definition of “kaizen” than most anything else you will hear.


Another thing he rightly emphasized was about value stream mapping. I'm paraphrasing, but Dr. Billi stated that it's not the map itself is valuable, but rather the process involved with the team creating a map. I see this in my own work with hospitals. Value stream mapping would be worthless if I went, as an individual, and interviewed individual stakeholders in different roles and departments, creating a pretty looking map in a piece of software. Instead, what's helpful is having a cross-functional, cross-departmental team altogether in room, hashing through the sometimes ugly process of creating a map. It's the process of creating a map that sparks discussion and creates broader understanding of the end and flow for members of the team who are normally focused solely on their own work.

When we map the current state, what we find is often ugly, as Dr. Billi discussed. what's important, to me, is that people work together on improving the process, rather than laying blame on whose fault it is that things are broken.

Thanks to MIT and Dr. Billi for putting on an outstanding webinar. I hope you'll take a look.

P.S.  I created this blog post using speech recognition software. So any strange typos are given the fault of the software or my poor proofreading after the fact. Maybe it goes to show you can't inspect quality into a blog post.


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. […] best when staff members are directly involved in improving their own work – as Dr. Jack Billi from the University of Michigan discussed in his webinar, he wants 20,000 problem …. There’s a time and a place for structured weeklong improvement events and there’s a […]

  2. […] Webinar Recording from a University of Michigan Health System Lean Leader (from 2011) […]

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