[Video] Kim Barnas on Moving Beyond Heroics and on to Lean Management


Kim BarnasToday, I'm traveling to Orlando for the annual Society for Health Systems conference. I hope to see some of you there! Joe Swartz and I will be giving a short talk on coaching staff and leaders in Kaizen-style continuous improvement.

One of the keynote speakers will be Kim Barnas, a former executive at ThedaCare and a key person in the development of their Lean management system. He's the author of the excellent book Beyond Heroes and you can hear my podcast with her here.

If you can't make the conference, here's a talk that Kim presented at the University of Michigan Health System last year as part of their Lean thinker series.

I was also a speaker in this series in early 2014 when I was back in my home state.

If you're having a team meeting or something this week, there are a million things you can do with that time that would be worse than watching this video and discussing it.

Why does she think “strategy deployment” should perhaps be called “strategic alignment?”

Why did Kim think, if even for a minute, that Lean was just going to be another “flavor of the month?” How was that assuaged by John Toussaint's participation as CEO?

What might a Lean management look like? What did ThedaCare do to help create this? What's the “standardized work” for leaders that creates that sort of system?

How was all a response to people crying in her office?

Why did Kim ask “Who can we free up on this unit for half an hour today to work on a problem?” (A great example of MAKING time for Kaizen, rather than falling back on “lack of time” as an excuse). Why do they limit to six the number of process improvements being worked on in a unit at a given time?

What were the origins of the daily “no meeting zone?”

Watch the video to find out.


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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