Thanks to GoLeanSixSigma.com for asking me some questions for a discussion that they've posted on their website.
The questions they asked were:
- What advice do you have for someone that is getting started with applying Lean in Healthcare?
- What are some common mistakes you see people making when applying Lean in Healthcare?
- Do you have any pet peeves related to Lean application in Healthcare?
- Is there anyone that has significantly influenced you over the years?
- Why do you do what you do? (What motivates you?)
- What's something exciting that you're currently working on?
- What's your favorite application of Lean in your personal life (away from work)?
How would you answer those questions? Leave a comment below.
On the pet peeves issue, I tried to address, in particular, some of the “Lean Sigma” stuff that I have blogged about here on this site… but I hope my message reaches their “Lean Sigma” audience.
My response to them:
One of my biggest pet peeves is more related to “Lean Sigma” in healthcare (or otherwise).
Most Lean Six Sigma training, when you really look at the curriculum and time spent, is not 50/50 Lean and Six Sigma – it's usually about 90% Six Sigma. Many people who hear about Lean decide it's probably a good idea to learn about two methodologies (Lean and Six Sigma) instead of just one.
But, too much of the “Lean Sigma” training is really just a full-blown Six Sigma program with a few superficial Lean tools thrown in. People are taught that “Lean is just another tool in the toolbox” instead of getting an appreciation for Lean as a culture, philosophy, and management system.
It also irks me when Lean Sigma trainers or books say, “Lean is for efficiency/cost/speed” and “Six Sigma is the method for improving quality.” Now, don't get me wrong… Lean and Six Sigma can co-exist and work together in an organization.
It's grossly incorrect to say or imply that Lean is only about efficiency. The roots of Lean are in the Toyota Production System, which has dual pillars of improving flow AND quality. Flow and quality go hand in hand. Improving quality (and Lean has many methods that can be used directly to do so) leads to better flow and better flow leads to better quality, especially in healthcare, when better flow means shorter waiting times for patients and, therefore, better care.
It would be more correct to say that both Lean and Six Sigma can be applied to improve all the measures and goals that matter to people – safety, quality, flow, cost, efficiency, employee engagement, etc.
Some of my past blog posts on this topic include:
Don't forget, you can enter to win a copy of Practicing Lean through February 27: