Cleaning out the Backlog: Krafcik, Email, Lincoln, Leadership, Humility, Patient Falls


As I sometimes do, I'm going to close out a bunch of browser tabs and share some articles that caught my eye recently but don't merit full blog posts of their own. I'm cleaning out the LeanBlog backlog and trying to reduce inventory… so here we go:

Where is Jon Krafcik Now?

You might remember me writing about the 25th anniversary of the term “Lean Production.” The MIT grad student who coined the term, Jon Krafcik ended up as CEO of Hyundai North America. But where is he now? He's CEO “TrueCar.”

Read more: “How I Made It: John Krafcik.”

Preventing Email Overload

Verne Harnish is author of the well-known book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm. His most recent FORTUNE magazine column has good tips for managing email overload. It's a pet peeve of mine when I get emails with generic or unclear subject lines. For example, our condo building manager sends every email with the subject line “[Condo Name] Update.” That's as useless as NOT having a subject line at all. Seeing her name tells me that it's an update about our condo.

Read more: “5 ways to liberate your team from email overload.”

Reducing Patient Falls

New Hanover Regional Medical Center, in North Carolina, has used Lean to reduce patient falls. “The team then took what Barto describes as simple steps that cost little and required almost no investment in technology,” which include huddles that discuss any incidents that DO occur, to talk about how to prevent them in the future.

I hope and assume that the discussions need to be “no blame” discussions, otherwise staff might be pressured into covering up or not reporting minor falls or near misses. 22% reduction is a good start, but they can do better… so I hope they continue improving and they use what they learn from those huddles to further reduce falls.

Read more: “Lean strategies help North Carolina hospital reduce patient falls by 22 percent.”

Being a Great Leader

A post from Becker's Hospital Review summarizes an HBR post that says you only need to do four things to be a great leader:

  1. “Acts of humility, such as learning from criticism and admitting mistakes;”
  2. “Empowering followers to learn and develop;”
  3. “Acts of courage, such as taking personal risks for the greater good;” and
  4. “Holding employees responsible for results.”

As I've written about before, most organizations are not stocked full of humble leaders, but that's one of the first principles often discussed by Toyota – leading with humility.

I do think the notion of “holding employees responsible” is, unfortunately, code word for blaming them instead of truly leading.

Lincoln on Humility

Here's a related article I saw recently about President Abraham Lincoln and his view that a leader needs humility and confidence and that these two things aren't opposite.

Confidence allows a leader to chart his or her own course, whatever others say.

Humility lets a leader acknowledge the possibility that he or she is wrong, listen to and take seriously those who disagree, and by doing so avoid needless mistakes.


Supporting Continuous Improvement

Here's a blog post from Jamie Flinchbaugh that we posted on our KaiNexus blog. How can leaders go from supporting continuous improvement and Kaizen and, instead, actually LEAD the efforts?

Read more: “The Single Best Way Leaders Support Cultures of Continuous Improvement.”

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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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