CUBS Win! Chicago Hospital Implements First Staff-Driven Improvement in 108 Years



cubsSnapping a historic 108-year drought, a small hospital, Chicago's Community Use Bariatric Health Services (CUBS), implemented their first employee-driven improvement idea Wednesday night, breaking a long curse.

CUBS had suffered through a long improvement drought, which many fans and hospital leaders believed was exacerbated by a 1945 incident where Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis was asked to leave the CUBS facility because the odor of his pet goat, Murphy, was bothering other hospital patients.

According to Chronicles of Old Chicago, a 2014 book by Chicago historian and author Adam Selzer, Sianis went so far as to send CUBS owner Philip K. Wrigley a telegram after the incident promising: “You are never going to implement another Kaizen idea again because you insulted my goat.”

Hospital manager Joe Maddon, in his second year in his position, took a pause from spraying celebratory champagne to say, “The culture here had to change… the way we had always done things was not going to lead to victory.” Maddon and his leadership team had worked hard to create a culture were employees could speak up, identify problems, and work together to test small changes.

After starting their new team huddle process, their seventh huddle ran past its scheduled nine minutes. In the 10th minute, RN Willson Contreras delivered a dramatic idea that “came out of left field,” said Maddon.

“It was a long-time coming, but we knew we could do it because Maddon and the CUBS ownership team believed in us,” said Contreras. “When we started changing the culture, when Maddon started managing differently, we knew it was just a matter of time before we implemented an improvement idea.”

The closest CUBS had come to implementing an improvement was in 2003, when hospital director Steve Bartman rudely shot down an idea that pharmacy tech Moises Alou seemed reader to implement. Some leaders said Bartman was unfairly blamed, since Alou's idea wasn't likely to catch on.

CUBS staff now expect that improvement will become a habit, and the team will be under pressure next week to repeat this historic event.

Fans of improvement and the hospital gathered outside their historic facility Wednesday night to celebrate the improvement:

Reports say a hospital in Cleveland now has the longest streak without an implemented improvement, dating back to 1948.

Because the improvement was implemented late into the evening, further details will be published in tomorrow's early edition.

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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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