For today's “Throwback Thursday,” I recently re-watched parts of a DVD I helped produce a few years back for the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value — Thinking Lean at ThedaCare DVD: Strategy Deployment, Alignment & Leadership.
In the video, ThedaCare's CEO, Dr. Dean Gruner, is talking about their “True North” objectives. First and foremost in that list is safety. We can include patient safety and provider/employee safety in that discussion.
In Lean and the Toyota Production System, safety ALWAYS comes first. When people talk about “Lean Safety,” that seems pretty redundant to me. But, I'd rather hear talk of Lean and Safety than have people ignore safety and only focus on efficiency or cost.
Dean says this about safety, in particular:
“If we can't do things safety, why should we be doing them in the first place?”
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As you enter a Toyota plant (in San Antonio or Japan), you walk through a green “safety arch.” It's symbolic, but it's a powerful message. It says “safe work is the door to all work… let us always pass through this door first” – like this image shows:
Update June 2016: Here's an image from a video shot by Paul Akers that shows a Toyota safety arch in Japan:
It's the ultimate “respect for people” for leaders to recognize a human principle that we don't want people getting hurt or killed. Nobody should get hurt at work. Patients shouldn't get harmed in the hospital. Staff shouldn't be exhausted at the end of the day. This all goes hand in hand… take care of the staff so they can take care of the patients.
Recently, I attended a patient safety conference, where the consistent theme was LEADERSHIP. Leaders need to take a strong, principled stand that safety is the first goal. Safety is the culture. There can be no sacrifices made in the name of throughput or production numbers, in a hospital or a factory.
Are your organization's leaders speaking out every day about the need for safety? Are they taking action to change the culture instead of just lecturing people or throwing slogans around? Are they starting every meeting with a safety minute? Or, is safety something that senior leaders think they can somehow delegate and not be responsible for?
You can watch a preview of the DVD below (and check out a new one they've released on “Beyond Budgeting”):
What commitments are you and your leaders making to put safety as a foremost priority?
You can also “throwback” to my podcasts with Dean:
- #119: (5/31/11) Dr. Dean Gruner, on Strategy Deployment at ThedaCare
- #144: (4/16/12) Dean Gruner, MD on ThedaCare, Lean, and ACOs
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Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation: