#KaizenLive: Building a Culture of Continuous Improvement Takes Time, Other Reflections


Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 6.08.19 AMI want to express my gratitude to Joe Swartz and his colleagues at Franciscan St. Francis Health for hosting our “Kaizen Live!” event. Yesterday was the first full day and everybody (24 attendees) will be back this morning to continue the learning and discussion.

The Franciscan story and our other Kaizen experiences are documented in our Healthcare Kaizen books.

I've been sharing quotes and key insights on Twitter, using hashtag #KaizenLive and will continue doing so today.

One of the things I learned (or was reminded of) yesterday is that it requires time and patience to build a culture of continuous improvement. Joe and the Franciscan leaders pretty consistently describe stories in departments that go like this:

  1. Leaders introduce Kaizen
  2. Staff shrug and say, “Oh, here's one more thing to do”
  3. The leaders are persistent… and keep asking for ideas
  4. The leaders help staff, recognize them…. more consistent effort everyday
  5. Some staff participate
  6. Leaders continue their consistent behaviors
  7. After six months or maybe a year, things really take off. Kaizen has become “the way we think and the way we do things around here.”

Changing the culture in an organization isn't easy. It's not like flipping a light switch.

But, after time, the folks at Franciscan say things like, “Our brains have changed” and “This is just how we think now.”

Kaizen at Franciscan isn't just about solving problems… it's about developing people. They've implemented and documented more than 27,000 improvements since 2007… and there are countless others that staff would admit have not been documented.

It's really special to see this culture in place. The key discussions then, for our attendees, are about how to create this culture. How can you get from here to there? It's easier to see “what good looks like” than it is to get started on that path (and to keep going). If you're willing to take that journey, Joe and I would love to help.

Here are some key tweets from yesterday:

Kickoff and Joe Swartz:

The data he shared:

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 6.20.45 AM

Joe's lessons learned:

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 6.19.57 AM

Matt Pierce, Nursing Director

Endoscopy Director and Nurses, Gemba Visit

Panel Discussion – Franciscan Leaders

Pharmacy Gemba Visit

Perioperative Services Director

Her key lessons:

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 6.17.47 AM

Their “system” means a homegrown web database that they built years ago… “putting into the system” means to help document the idea so it can be searched and shared (as our KaiNexus customers do).

In her fourth bullet point, she was talking about turning complaints into improvement.


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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.



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