See A Pharmacy Leader Say “The Leaders Support Kaizen… It’s OK to Fail”


Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 10.25.56 AMHere's the latest video in the series that Joe Swartz and I shot at Franciscan St. Francis Health back in October.

Pharmacy manager (now director) Ronda Freije shares her experiences in engaging staff and piloting and evaluating changes in a PDSA manner. In a Kaizen approach, we test changes to see if they really work in practice. She says, in part, “It's OK to fail… a lot of people don't want to fail… but I'd rather they have 100 ideas and if half of them are good, that's great, rather than not having any ideas.”

You can also view this video of Ronda explaining how Kaizen saves time for her as a leader.

What behaviors can you practice that encourage the open, honest evaluation of ideas? Many organizations are indeed afraid to “fail.” If they try something, they want to do everything they can to convince leaders that it worked. I call this the “Plan-Do-Rationalize-Justify” cycle and it's really counterproductive.

Sometimes, we're going to try things that don't work as we expected. Or, it “works,” but creates some side effect. We have to let people go back to the drawing board to tweak or rethink their idea. If we punish “failure,” people will get really cautious or they'll justify things as a success, no matter what. Leaders can set this tone from the very top of the organization. Does the CEO ever admit any mistakes in front of the senior leadership team or staff? Why do people need to seem infallible?

P.S. Don't forget my brief reader survey with the chance to win a free book.


Ronda Freije:  My name is Ronda Freije, and I am the Pharmacy Operations Manager at Franciscan St Francis Health. We have been involved in Kaizen now for about seven years in the pharmacy department.

It started out slow but has grown over the years, has really saved us time in the pharmacy department, it's made our patients safer for some of the things we've been able to implement, and it's just an excellent team building program for probably anyone.

The leadership engagement is probably the biggest driver of this knowing that the leaders support Kaizen. In the beginning I was coming up with the Kaizens in asking for assistance, and just identifying problems and bringing the team together saying here is the issue, how can we resolve it, how can we implement a resolution.

Having the team work together, and some large projects, not little simple issues but larger issues over several different shifts, and then seeing it implemented.

At one point we made a change in how were storing medications, and I immediately had push-back from another shift, or other people that were involved.

I basically said listen, this team has worked very hard on this, we're going to give it seven days' grace , and we're going to try all of this. If it's not correct we are going to come back to the way it was, but if it is an improvement we are going to keep it, and at the end of that we ended up keeping that one, it worked well, just people needed to give it a chance, and it worked well.

But we have been very not up to it with the staff, not every idea is going to be successful, and it is OK to fail. But a lot of people don't want to fail, and they don't want to put themselves out there, but it's OK to fail. They have a hundred ideas, and if half of them are good that's great, versus somebody that doesn't have any ideas. Just giving that permission to fail, wanting them to try.

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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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