Guest Post: Weekend Fun – The Post That Goes PING!


Mark's note: Today's guest post is by Brian Buck, a fellow lean healthcare  practitioner  who regularly blogs at “Improve With Me.” Following my tendency to share the silly and the funny on Saturdays, Brian delivers some laughs and insights below.

By Brian Buck:

Inspired by the recent Lean Memes contest, I wanted to create one from the classic Monty Python Hospital Sketch from the movie “The Meaning Of Life“. Upon watching the scene again, I realized there are many Lean-related lessons that would be a better blog post than crammed into a miniseries of memes.

I am a big believer that behind most jokes there is a lot of truth and that is why we laugh. As much as we wish hospitals are not really like this scene, there are a lot of things we can relate to:

  1. Tools and technology that are used based on preference and not on clinical outcomes or safety: I was on the fence about picking on the machine that goes “PING” because they said it told them the baby was alive but earlier in the scene the Obstetrician asked to bring it out “in case the administrator comes.” If the machine was needed for safety, it was not part of the standard set-up for the Operating Room. It may be possible the machine adds no value to the patients nor makes the work easier for the providers.
  2. Searching for the patient: While I have not heard of patients getting hidden in the same room with providers like this scene; I have seen clinic doctors waiting because patients are missing because of hold-ups in registration, the family was out of earshot when called to come to the room, or they were in another room entirely!
  3. Poor service from talking down to patients: The Pythons tell the mom to do nothing because she is not qualified and to “leave it to us”. This kind of behavior usually makes a patient feel powerless and afraid to speak up. While this is horrible from a customer-service standpoint, it could lead to safety issues if the patient does not share key information because they are intimidated by the doctor.
  4. Wasted time with financial wizardry instead of improving where value is created: The Administrator received a round of applause for leasing the machine from the company they sold it to so it shows up under the monthly budget instead of the capital budget. Instead of gaming the budgeting system, it would be a better use of the leader's time coaching staff how to use Kaizen to improve the hospital's service.

What other waste or poor service do you see in this scene that you have experienced in a hospital?

If you are looking for more Lean-related Monty Python fun, check out the two memes that were created!

About Brian Buck:  Brian is an internal consultant at a children's hospital.   He blogs at  and can be found on  Twitter  as He also has  an essay published in Matthew E May's forthcoming book  The Laws of Subtraction: 6 Simple Rules for Winning in the Age of Excess Everything.

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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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