Podcast #337 – Vance Jackson, a Lean Healthcare CEO from West Virginia

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It's my second straight podcast with a healthcare CEO. This time, joining me for Episode #337 is Vance Jackson, FACHE, FACMPE, the President & CEO of Davis Health System, based in Elkins, West Virginia.

Vance and I talk about how he was admittedly skeptical about Lean at a previous healthcare organization. But, over time, he realized the importance of Lean and the need for him to lead differently — working to get input from everybody instead of the old autocratic way that we, unfortunately, see in so many healthcare organizations.

How does Vance lead by example as a CEO? Why is it so important for him to go to the “gemba” and observe the actual work and the workplace environment? We talk about all of that and more in this episode.


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For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/337.

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

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Questions, Topics, Quotes, and Links:

  • Please introduce yourself and your career… your current role
  • How and when did you get introduced to Lean?
    • “Was resistant to it at first… embraced it after some time.”
  • What were some of your experiences in that first organization?
    • What was the influence of Iowa manufacturers?
  • What did you learn about doing workplace observation?
    • “That it's tough”
    • “Going to gemba is not just one thing.”
    • Focusing on what you're observing and why
      • Just observing to learn?
      • Or also asking questions for understanding
      • Not evaluating or judging
      • Observing for safety?
        • Is the environment and layout safe? Are interactions safe? Have we created a safe environment — physically, professionally, and emotionally?
    • Vance sends thank you notes
  • What was your approach when you became CEO at Davis?
    • Why Lean?
    • How do you strike the balance between being “the final decision maker” and getting input from others?
    • What do you do to help people speak up?
    • Aiming for dialogue, not an autocratic environment
  • How are you leading by example?
  • “Trying to practice Lean”
  • What is “The Davis Way” — the name for process excellence?
    • “It's a frame of mind… it's the process, not the people”
  • Paul O'Neill changed his perspective (hear my interview with him)
  • How do you define “True North”?
    • Four key measures
      • Patient engagement
      • Employee engagement
      • Profitability
      • Quality
    • What's the process and effort required to get alignment?
  • What are your hopes, goals, and challenges in 2019?

Thanks for listening!

Hospital photo credit:By Ekem – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33416249

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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