Before I head out on vacation, here is a reader question that I am sharing for your input.I'm sharing this with permission and I'm obscuring a few details at their request.
Please read and leave a comment below the post. My approval of comments might be a bit slow after Tuesday evening as I start to travel.
I thought I'd get in touch. I have genuinely listened to every podcast you have on your site. They're brilliant, and I'm very grateful for the time you put into making them.
I'm getting in touch because I'm faced with a question I've never heard tackled anywhere. As the most accessible lean expert I know of, I thought I'd come to you.
As a bit of background, I'm an attending physician working in a hospital. I was first exposed to Lean about 4 years ago after a colleague returned from a visit to Virginia Mason, and mentioned it. Since then I've worked my way through lots of reading, podcasts and also implemented small projects within my own team.
I've become the “factory of one”, and personally have a really high amount of face-to-face patient contact, while only working my official hours. I've done the best I can to spread Lean through conversations with other clinicians, making Lego videos to explain the concepts, and we've put some basic lean principles in a new clinic design.
Unfortunately, there's almost no awareness or desire for Lean at a senior level, and I'm now at the stage where I'm frustrated by all the waste I can see, but is invisible to everyone else.
There are about 3 of us (out of a staff of 2000) who are desperate to see a proper lean transformation. My understanding is that we're more doomed to fail without senior executive support to drive it throughout the organization.
Which brings me, to my question (sorry it's taken a while). I've been given an hour with our Chief Executive to talk about Quality Improvement. This is my one shot to discuss it with her and I don't want to mess it up. I've got about two weeks to get my plan together.
I didn't know whether you knew of a resource, or some evidence of the best way to go about this?
My intention at the minute is to explain my own path through Lean and the frustration I feel as a clinician. My intention was for her to simply have to decide between “we're not doing it” or “I'll need to know more”. If she chooses the latter then we'll try and set up a three month plan for her and the board to work through.
As someone who has never done this before, my tactics may well be a bit off. If you have anything to offer, I'd be very grateful.
Many thanks, and please keep going with the podcasts. They've been invaluable to my learning.
Thanks for your email. I'd like to be more helpful… to do so more personally and at greater length, but the timing is bad. I'm about to head off on a two week vacation Tuesday night, so I won't have much internet access.
I will (anonymously) share your question on my blog and hopefully there will be good responses from my readers.
It's great that you are taking on this important mission of improving patient care and improving the hospital for everybody involved.
I don't think you can expect to magically convince anybody in one meeting, but here would be my advice:
1) Start by getting agreement and alignment around the question of “what problem are we trying to solve?” first. They might not want to “do Lean” but I'm sure they want to improve.
2) Share some examples from other hospitals that have used Lean to help solve some of those problems (realizing that people might say “our hospital is different than those” for some reason… and that's OK, just let that be something to work through instead of being an excuse).
3) Share your own personal experiences about how Lean has helped you and your patients in that setting. Explain how Lean benefits all stakeholders.
4) Propose some small scale experiments to help continue proving out that Lean is helpful.
5) Share stories and testimonials from hospital CEOs from around the world, such as Dr. John Toussaint and Dr. Gary Kaplan from ThedaCare and Virginia Mason, respectively.
In particular, see Toussaint's new book Management on the Mend and his “roadmap” for improvement.
I hope those initial thoughts will help. Now, I'll turn things over to my trusted readers and the Lean Blog community… please leave a comment and share your thoughts.