What I’m Reading: Diner Muda, No Blame at Etsy, Toyota Treats Cancer Faster, etc.


In case you missed it, see Saturday's post: “Why Toyota is Eliminating the Andon Cord from its Factories.”

As I occasionally do, today's post is one where I'm going to close out some open browser tabs and post links to articles that I've been reading that are worth sharing (as I often do on Twitter), but don't merit their own blog post. I'm cleaning up the blog backlog, as I sometimes say.

Here we go:

I'm Skeptical of This Viral Article

This article has been making the rounds of social media and has been emailed to me a few times: “Restaurant Watches Old Surveillance And Shares Shocking Results On Craigslist.” The premise is that a restaurant in NYC is getting a lot of complaints about slow service. Allegedly, they pull up old surveillance video that shows the behavior of customers from 10 years (it's like a time machine gemba visit!). Compared to today, the diners are there to eat and talk. Today, they are playing with their phones, which is supposedly doubling the length of the meal (and arguably isn't the restaurant's fault). The general premise might be fair, but I don't believe the detailed data that was presented in the piece. I think it was a bit of fiction writing (or creative exaggeration) to make a pre-determined point.

Australian Hospital Improves Cancer Treatment via Toyota

This article appeared in an Aussie paper: “Toyota production system adopted by cancer unit at St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne.” Not surprisingly, using Lean methods (inspired by Toyota and getting help directly from the company), the hospital improved flow and reduced the time required to get cancer drugs from 210 minutes to 34 minutes. With all of the waste in healthcare processes, it's not surprising to see 50 to 90% reductions in flow times, rather than modest 3 to 5% improvement goals that might normally be set. Aim big — reinvent processes and then continuously improve them! That's Lean.

Is California Also Engaging Their Employees' Ideas?

I love the “Lean government” initiatives in Washington, Iowa, and other states (which doesn't include my state of Texas, to my knowledge). I'm doing a podcast with two of the Washington Lean leaders next month, actually. The state of California has announced a new initiative aimed at getting ideas from residents: “California Lawmaker Wants to Cut Waste With Crowdsourcing.” Like other crowdsourcing efforts, it offers a big prize… and I'd predict the state will accept or approve less than 1% of ideas, leading to a pretty small impact. Why not engage state workers in reducing the waiting times for drivers' licenses through a Kaizen process instead?

Oh, the article says:

“California already solicits about 566 suggestions from state employees a year and adopts 21 of them, the analysis said. Awards to state employees average $100, the analysis said.”

California has about 200,000 state employees. That's only 0.00283 suggestions per employee per year – a few orders of magnitude away from being anything close to world class. Adopting 21 of 566 is just a 3.7% adoption rate, which is actually quite high for a suggestion program. A federal program implemented only 67 of out 80,000 ideas. That's not very kaizen-y.

Etsy Doesn't Blame

It's great to see an article like this where a company eschews the “blame game” that's so common in organizations of all types: “Etsy's Winning Secret: Don't Play The Blame Game!” The Brooklyn-based online store's CEO Chad Dickerson has realized that “blamelessness” is “a culture that's allowed Etsy employees to take more risks and move faster.” The article describes their “post-mortems” which includes an account of their use of the “Just Culture” approach that's so powerful in healthcare. I wish more companies were like Etsy in “identifying causes and not culprits.”

What We're Reading at KaiNexus

This is sort of meta or recursive to include this, but my colleagues at KaiNexus have doing a similar thing on our blog with “Friday Five” posts that include links to articles and videos that are of note. Check out posts by our co-founder and chief product officer Greg Jacobson, our director of customer experience Maggie Millard, our VP of sales Jeff Roussel, and our CEO Allan Wilson. I'll be doing the honors on Friday.

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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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