Operational Excellence Mixtape: October 26, 2018


Healthcare – Creating Value for Patient

A lot can be done to optimize flow in hospitals without investing in additional staff and infrastructure by using an operations research approach.  Here's an example from Ottawa.

Patient interviews can be uncomfortable, and it is hard to hear stories where you feel you've let patients down.  The discomfort of listening to patients is worth it in order to improve patient safety.

Electronic Health Records are mostly designed for accounting, reporting, and regulatory purposes, which has created waste and frustration for care providers for years.  Health IT must continue to consider physician workflow in order to avoid burnout.

Operational Excellence

Operational processes aren't the only ones with waste.  Managers spend a considerable time on wasteful processes.  I describe the 7 deadly wastes of management processes in this Linkedin article.

If you're looking for a simple way to improve your daily management system, replace your list of numbers and targets with process behaviour charts.

Incrementalism is overlooked as an improvement approach in search of 10x disruptions and innovations.  Dan Markovitz reminds us that kaizen means continuous improvement, not necessarily large improvements.

Organizations exist to create value.  Understanding customers allows organizations to continuosuly create greater value.  Getting employees to empathize and think like customers is essential to generating innovation.  Getting closer to the customer is important for connecting work to purpose, and aligning new ideas to create value for customers.

Agile is everywhere.  Like every popular method (or ideology), it gets diluted, misapplied, and re-purposed, often losing sight of its original intent.  From 2015, the prescient Agile Imposition Revisited reminds us that the Agile Manifesto cautioned against many of the traps that organizations fall into when becoming agile.

Leading & Enabling Excellence

Leading with humility is a longstanding principle of operational excellence.  The business world is catching up to the results – the Wall Street Journal published a great article asserting that humble bosses are more effective.  It's hard not to notice that many “rockstar” leaders and CEOs are less than humble.  HBR asks and answers “if humilty is so important, why are leaders so arrogant?”

Speaking of humility, learn about how the authoritarian leadership style of VW CEO Martin Winterkorn contributed to a culture of fear, and ultimately the entire company's downfall, along with some thoughts on how to combat it.

Annual performance reviews are wasteful, ineffective “check the box” administrivia, yet they endure in some organizations.  Netflix ditched their annual review in favour of internal 360 feedback.

Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Excellent teachers develop excellent students.  See what other countries are learning from Singapore's focus on developing excellence in teaching and its results.

Books, Videos, Podcasts

Design in healthcare should be considered part of the patient's care, as it can contribute to outcomes.  Adam Ward's book, Lean Design in Healthcare: A Journey to Improve Quality and Process of Care, provides practical methods to design processes around the patient.

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Ryan McCormack
Ryan is an operational excellence professional with over 18 years experience practicing continuous improvement in healthcare, insurance, food manufacturing, and aerospace. He is an avid student of the application of Lean principles in work and life to create measurably better value.


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