I have many experiences in healthcare that I haven't blogged about. I try not to write posts that say, “Hey, you won't believe what happened yesterday,” for a number of reasons. But, sometimes, my memory gets jogged and a story comes back to me. That's what I'm sharing today as a Throwback Thursday.
A while ago, I was brought in to work with a health system and its management team. They had done the pilgrimage to ThedaCare, a great Lean healthcare system in Wisconsin. They had been “implementing Lean” for a number of years.
“I think that people here expect miracles. American management thinks that they can just copy from Japan–but they don't know what to copy!”
It's tempting to visit a place like ThedaCare and then mandate “everybody must have huddle boards.” Then, a bunch of huddle boards get purchased and installed… and maybe not used.
— Catalysis (@HCValue) August 26, 2015
Telling everyone to put up huddle boards is “changing the way people work.” That doesn't mean the CEO and senior leadership team are changing the way they manage.
So I was in a discussion with the CEO and leadership team. We were discussing definitions of their “True North” and, thankfully, quality and patient safety was a topic.
The VP of Nursing and Quality was talking about a recent “sentinel event,” where a patient specimen was lost somewhere along the way, most likely in the lab.
There was some good discussion about identifying the root cause and the need to take corrective actions that would prevent similar occurrences. The problem wasn't going to be solved in the board room, but the discussion wasn't focused on blame and punishment, but rather getting people to investigate.
I could see the CEO getting visibly impatient and squirmy.
He blurted out, with a somewhat angry tone:
“But…. but…. sometimes people are just going to be idiots!”
Well, there you have it.
Can a leader change if they have decades of accumulated “blame and shame” habits?
That's not a Lean thinking CEO. Is that a CEO who has a fighting chance of changing their approach and leadership style? Or is that a CEO who is likely to be tuned out and marginalized by those who are budding Lean thinkers?
What would you do or say in a situation like that?