John Toussaint, Mayo Proceedings, on “The Promise of Lean in Health Care”
John is excited that the article will be read by many physicians, given where it was published.
The piece was co-authored with Leonard L. Berry, PhD, from Texas A&M. Professor Berry was “embedded” at ThedaCare for a year, studying the use and the impact of Lean management and improvement methods there and at other health systems.
The article gives a great deal of attention to the need to engage all employees in the improvement of their own work – otherwise known as Kaizen. Leaders need to change their leadership styles to shift from being top-down to being a coach and mentor.
From the piece:
Lean is a cultural transformation that changes how an organization works; no one stays on the sidelines in the quest to discover how to improve the daily work. It requires new habits, new skills, and often a new attitude throughout the organization from senior management to front-line service providers
For Lean to take hold in an organization and transform its culture to one of continuous improvement, senior management must relinquish the role of master problem solver to those who are closer to the problems to be solved to benefit from their knowledge of the focal process, to give them hands-on experience in using Lean methods and to see first-hand the performance improvement and teamwork this can create, and to promote an attitude that what exists can likely be improved.
Respect for workers is critical:
Lean, in a sense, turns leadership upside down, with front-line workers doing much of the innovating and managers trusting them to do it and supporting them. Respect for the potential of front-line workers to have the brainpower and commitment to improve the work must pervade the organization. Respect flows downward, not just upward.
Here is a video of Toussaint talking about the article: