Lean Thoughts at a Toronto Blue Jays Game


I love what I do and I travel a lot… the travel can sometimes be a drag, such as last Monday's flight delays with storms in Chicago, arriving in Toronto three hours late (after midnight). But, sometimes things work out in a surprisingly good way.

I was in Toronto to take a training class to become certified as a facilitator for the change management education programs created by the company ExperiencePoint. I'm building a web page about this, and it's still very much a work in progress, but let me know if you'd like to learn more about their change simulations and how that can be a helpful part of a large Lean transformation effort (or something like an EMR implementation). I'd love to come facilitate this for a group at your organization.

Since I was flying up there for the class on Thursday and Friday, I spent parts of Tuesday and Wednesday visiting two local hospitals to gather some stories for the 3rd edition of Lean Hospitals that I'm currently working on.

One of my colleagues who hosted me on Tuesday was able to get tickets from a friend for the Blue Jays baseball game Tuesday night. It turns out the tickets were in the front row by first base! Wow! We were very fortunate to get these seats.



Part of being spoiled, in the front row of an MLB game, is having an attendant who is sitting right there, if you want food or a drink.

They used “point of use” inventory… namely that blue cooler that you see in the picture. The most commonly requested beverages were kept right there to reduce the “waste of motion” for the server, you might say. How convenient!




Yes, it's very convenient. It's like the idea of storing commonly used materials in exam rooms or just outside (as this picture from an emergency department shows):


See, I do some real work too. That's a standardized supply cart that's kept in between every two E.D. rooms. Point of use (or pretty close to the point of use).

OK, back to baseball…

We also had a good view of the plays at first base and the “first base coach” for each team.

We joked about the “5S violation” of the Blue Jays coach not staying in the assigned area, the coaches' box.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 6.26.13 AM

Technically, the coach was breaking the rules. But, this rule is rarely enforced.

What's the point of a standard if it isn't enforced by the umpires?

It's VERY common for the coach to stand back further than the box, for a few reasons. One, is for safety (being further from home plate means less chance of being hit by a foul ball. There are some safety risks, as the coaches now wear hard helmets instead of soft caps because a minor league coach was killed by a foul ball a few years back.

Here's an example of a close call:

But, if the standard isn't really that important, why not change the standard? Does that create a situation where the rule could be unfairly selectively enforced by the umpire?

Do we sometimes have workplace rules that aren't consistently enforced? Why?


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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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