Podcast #299 – Joe Swartz, 10+ Years of Kaizen at Franciscan


Joining me again for episode #299 of the podcast is Joe Swartz, my friend and esteemed co-author for our books Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements and The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen: Leadership for a Continuously Learning and Improving Organization. You can learn more about our books here. He was previously the guest in episode #187.

Joe is the Administrative Director of Business Transformation for Franciscan Alliance, which owns Franciscan Health in Indiana (his full bio is here). He also contributed a chapter to the book Practicing Lean. (read an excerpt). Joe is also a co-author of the book Seeing David in the Stone

Today is the first part of a two-part discussion, where Joe reflects on the history and evolution of more than ten years of “Kaizen” or continuous improvement in his system. In our next episode together, Joe will be talking about “Champions of Change.” I hope you enjoy the discussion!

Streaming Player (Run Time 40:34)

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For a link to use for this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/299

For earlier episodes of my podcast, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS, through Android apps, or via Apple Podcasts.  You can also subscribe and listen via Stitcher.

  • About Joe's professional background
  • What are the strategies that created better acceptance of continuous improvement?
    • 1) They have to see the benefits for themselves
    • 2) Understand the perspectives of the people involved
    • 3) Respond and rethink your approach based on their feedback
  • What motivates people in healthcare to choose to participate in Kaizen?
    • The flexibility and balance of working on things that are self-motivated vs. being aligned with organizational goals
  • How did you evolve from Kaizen to a broader Lean management system and strategy deployment? How as strategy deployment introduced and how does it create alignment?
    • Asking executives: What are you trying to drive? What's the most important thing?
    • What are the relevant leading metrics for front-line staff?
    • Example of improving patient satisfaction
    • Cycles of Plan-Do-Study-Adjust
  • Does it help to learn PDSA through Kaizen before applying that to Strategy Deployment?
    • The leaders who participated in Kaizen are better at driving organizational change
  • Combining Kaizen with other Lean management practices like huddles, huddle boards, and tiered huddles?
    • Shifting from projects to transforming whole value streams
    • Addressing customer needs instead of just one part of the process
  • Would you recommend that other organizations start with daily improvement and add other practices or try the entire “bundle” of Lean management practices all at once?
  • What advice do you have for organizations that say “there's too much uncertainty to start with continuous improvement right now?”
    • Healthcare organizations tend to be risk-averse. His organization tries to set a course and stay true to that direction over time.
  • Franciscan has been part of the Healthcare Value Network to learn from other organizations

Video and Webinars With Joe Swartz:

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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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