Operational Excellence Mixtape: Jan 15, 2021


Thanks as always to Ryan McCormack for this… there's always so much good reading, listening, and viewing shared here by him!

One more note from Mark: Check out Episode 32 of “My Favorite Mistake” with consultant Michele Parrish as our guest.

Healthcare — Creating Value for Patients

Like many others, I had high hopes when, three years ago, a joint venture between Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Amazon called Haven was announced with a mission to reduce healthcare costs while improving outcomes.  It has come to a crash in 2021 without producing much of anything.  Dr. John Toussaint tells us Why Haven Healthcare Failed

15 years ago, to suggest that some harm-related defects (or even referring to harm as “defect”) could be eliminated was met with scoff and ridicule.  Now, doctors and nurses publish an article in NEJM Catalyst on a framework for systemically pursuing zero defects in healthcare.  Imagine how much improvement can be made in the next 15 years.

Operational Excellence

Dr. Deming asserted long ago that 94% of most possibilities for improvement belong to the system (responsibility of management), yet organizations and managers continue to attribute cause to individual workers.   Dan Markovitz explains that Productivity is About Your Systems, Not Your People.  

Lean has been scapegoated for many of the shortages early on during the pandemic due to some misconceptions about “Just in Time” or low inventory systems.  T. Netland debunks these myths and tries to restore the good name of Lean in Lean and the Corona pandemic: A clarification

Curiosity is an essential ingredient for continuous improvement, but curiosity may also be the secret to a happy life.  

Distributed (remote) work has changed the way process improvement coaches and black belts approach collaborative problem solving and process mapping.  Improvement professionals can benefit from exploring process mining and RPA in place of sticky notes.  Similarly, improvement professionals have adjusted to embrace digital whiteboard collaboration tools.  Here are the Best Whiteboard Software Suites for 2021 from capterra

Leading & Enabling Excellence

Siemens demonstrates high trust in employees with this 2-sentence new policy on remote work.  

In large organizations, IT is often blamed for failed transformations for operating as a silo, protecting its capacity and telling the business what they can't do.  Lee Congdon explains how IT leaders will need to continue to evolve to become cross-functional business technology supports in a CIO's advice for the next generation.  

Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Many driven professionals continually seek greater achievements as a way to fulfil their sense of purpose and success, but this may not lead to happiness.  Why Success Won't Make You Happy.  

With lockdowns, restrictions, and working from home, many of us had to give up routines and have paused or abandoned plans.  Science Says You Need to Plan Some Things to Look Forward to

Books, Podcasts, Videos

Books I'm currently reading:

I'm awaiting the delivery of a copy of Office Lean: Understanding and Implementing Flow in a Professional and Administrative Environment from my colleague Ken Eakin.  Can't wait!

Not an improvement book per se, but I'm enjoying the very inspirational book Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything by Viktor E. Frankl.

Podcasts I'm listening to:

HBR Ideacast #773: Stop Micromanaging and Give People The Help They Really Need

Connecting the Dots: Dr. Martin Lucenti, Chief Medical Officer at Vizient, Inc. speaks about Emergency Room (ER) & Continuous Improvement

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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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