Notes from the 2012 Northeast Shingo Prize Conference, Day One

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Yesterday was an outstanding day at the Northeast Shingo Prize Conference in Worcester, Massachusetts – my first time attending and speaking at this event. It's always great to see Bruce Hamilton (of “Toast Kaizen” fame) and the rest of the GBMP team, along with the great people from the Shingo Prize. You know it's the NORTHEAST Shingo when people talk about:

“Going to the gember to see wheh Toyoter builds its cahs.”  :-)

I'm going to share some of the key quotes and highlights from what I tweeted yesterday.

From the exhibit hall:

Nick Lavieri – NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation

Nick spoke about the “Breakthrough” program (Lean) at the NYC public hospitals (his talk description):

  • NYC HHC has done 1007 5-day Rapid Improvement Events, total benefit $232 million
  • Those HHC events have involved 7000+ people across 19 sites over 5 years
  • Their approach for spreading ideas is “yokoten” in Japanese. Their emphasis is on sharing ideas and allowing people to choose to adopt them rather than forcing “best practices” on people. It's not “plug and play” copying.
  • They have an online repository of ideas that can be searched and viewed across all of their sites.

Naida Grunden – Lean Led Hospital Design

Naida gave a great talk based on her book, Lean-Led Hospital Design: Creating the Efficient Hospital of the Future.

  • “It's a myth that you always need more resources.”  (people, equipment, and space)

Dr. Eric Dickson – UMass Medical Center

Dr. Dickson (an E.R. doc) shared some great lessons about leadership and kaizen:

  • in #lean you have to let employees choose what improvements they make (what experiments to try)
  • if you really take care of frontline staff, they will drive the organization to its true north goals
  • they are running experiments with “visual idea boards” (not suggestion boxes) for kaizen at UMass Med Center
  • he always drops “take down the suggestion box, they don't work” into suggestion boxes when he sees them :-)
  • no good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.” Go and see problems first hand.
  • In surveys, MDs rated patient contact time as an 8.9 out of 10 satisfaction, charting = 2.6. Too much “crap” to deal with instead of patient time.

My Talk on “Putting the Continuous Back into Continuous Improvement”

Thinking about all of the organizations that are “doing Lean” without engaging everybody in daily continuous improvement (which is weird since kaizen is such a core principle of the Toyota Production System), I tweeted this and got a laugh during the presentation:

Saying you do #lean without involving everyone in #kaizen is sort of like saying you exercise but only once a week and only your shoulders

The core themes of my talk:

  • Kaizen is for everyone (all job levels and all industries)
  • People WANT to improve
  • Kaizen is more than weeklong events


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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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