Operational Excellence Mixtape: April 26, 2019

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The mixtape contains news, blogs, articles, resources, and links about creating value, continuous improvement, innovation, and leadership in healthcare and industry – compiled and shared by Ryan McCormack


Ryan and I are co-sponsoring a workshop that I'll be presenting on “Measures of Success” in Winnipeg on May 10. Learn more.


Healthcare – Creating Value for Patients

In Canada, we wait.  A long time.  Especially if you are referred to a specialist by your doctor. Oftentimes it takes 7 weeks even for the consult to be acknowledged by the specialist.Getting rid of faxed and letters (yeah – that's right – healthcare still uses snail mail) and replacing it with electronic consulting is a good first step, but not sufficient to transform this broken process

Nurse burnout is a problem.  Articles touting self care and resilience are becoming common.  Why not address the systemic causes instead of asking nurses to learn to better cope with overburden?

A Washington State senator ignorantly remarks that nurses “probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day”.  This type of blanket judgment statement will do very little to address the challenges with nurse overburden

Denmark has transformed its healthcare system over the last 30 years by reducing its number of hospitals and redesigning the way care is delivered.  It seems to be working for them. Meanwhile, in North America, we continue to build acute care hospitals and commit to models of care that are 50 years old.

Operational Excellence

Most of the learning in a lean transformation comes from the process of adopting lean thinking. John Shook and Jamie Bonini remind everyone that lean is a way of thinking and not a set of tools or a cost-cutting approach, in Setting the Record Straight on Lean

Kim Barnas, the author of the seminal lean management book Beyond Heroes, reminds us to take planful action to break the cycle of firefighting.  Solve problems in a deliberate way instead of acting and reacting.  

Amazon was successful at scaling up partly due to its obsession with process excellence. “Excellence means being able to complete work on time and not by luck, but through systematic and predictable planning”, according to this article in Forbes.

Toyota is famous for “designing in quality” into process and product, but they also design quality into the entire product development process.

Here's a good reflection on A3 thinking in The Suit: What's your problem?

I often hear “lean is about efficiency”, due to the misleading myths that lean is about speed or only about reducing waste.  Experienced lean practitioners know that the ultimate goal is not an empty pursuit of efficiency.  How much efficiency is too much?  Here's an excellent article (I found by way of Azeem Azhar's Exponential View) called The Efficiency Delusion.

Leading & Enabling Excellence

Fortune released its list of the 50 greatest leaders in the world. The emotional quality that they have in common?  Hardiness.

“Transformational leaders balance courage and humility in order to grow and develop every day”, according to Tony Schwartz in the HBR article Great Leaders Are Thoughtful and Deliberate – Not Impulsive and Reactive.

Complex problem-solving is a key 21st-century skill and CEOs need to take notice at their organization's problem solving capabilities.

Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Torch is developing an app for teaching executives empathy, to combat narcissism and to be a “more loving human being in the workplace”.

We procrastinate because of bad moods – it's an emotional problem, and not a time management problem.

Asking questions is the killer app of coaching.  Here's another piece on asking great questions.

Purpose in work is essential for excellence.  This enduring principle can even be found in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.  Here he discusses “what defines a human being is to work with others”, and when engrossed in meaningful work, people will “rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing”. 

Books, Podcasts, Videos

Amy Edmondson did an excellent podcast on Coaching for Leaders on How to Build Psychological Safety

Curiosity is a 21st-century leadership competency.  Learn about the F.A.T.E. model of what can prevent curiosity in this excellent edition of What's Up with Tiffani Bova

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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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