Operational Excellence Mixtape: February 12, 2021


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

Healthcare – Creating Value for Patients

Striving for zero harm is becoming more widely accepted in healthcare.  Here, an article makes the case that Japan should strive to eliminate covid-19.  Why not in North America?

Diagnostic errors are often overlooked when discussing patient safety, but they are one of the top drivers of harm in the health system.  I am interested in the recommendations that will emerge from a study funded by Leapfrog to prevent harm from diagnostic error.

Rapid Response Teams are commonly used in tertiary hospitals to respond to deteriorating conditions affecting acute patients.  But the unnecessary activation of these RRTs can pose problems.  A pediatric team used iterative PDSA cycles to reduce the number of unnecessary RRT calls by 29.5% without compromising safety or quality.

Operational Excellence

Toyota doesn't let a good crisis go to waste.

Achieving operational excellence requires leaders and teams to embrace scientific thinking.  Combine this with the proliferation of widely available data and it should be evident that data-driven decision making should be a predominant form of leadership – but it isn't.  Why Is It So Hard to Become a Data-Driven Organization?

I've always been interested in Value Investing – indeed, my first book on investing was Benjamin Graham's the Intelligent Investor, a classic on the subject.  It turns out there are some parallels between value investing and lean principles

Being able to “see the work” and actively observe processes has always been a key plank of lean management and continuous improvement.  But what if everyone is working from home?  Digital distributed work means there is no gemba to walk if you're a lean manager.  This is one reason tools like process mining are rapidly growing

The robots are coming!  A common refrain heard through my career, with mostly disappointing traction.  Automation technology is becoming less costly over time and many traditional vocations may finally become more attractive candidates for automation.  Here are the Top 5 Jobs Robots Could Have in the Next Decade.

Leading & Enabling Excellence

Covid has required leaders to be more flexible and challenge their default styles.  Different styles are required and this trend will likely continue.  The future of team leadership is multi-modal

Some simple and effective tips on communicating for collaboration in How I Collaborate: Amy Lark, Air Traffic Controller.

Your next boss may be more coach than technical expert. Excellent article in WSJ Your Next Boss: More Harmony, Less Authority (paywall).  

A learning culture is essential for sustainable improvement, and this means establishing the conditions to question authority without fear of reprisal and balancing results with a focus on process.  Here's how the Gates Foundation strives for a learning culture.  

Coaching – Developing Self & Others

The Most Annoying Habits of Clueless Leaders

How Experience Can Hinder Critical Thinking

Books, Podcasts, Videos

Books I'm currently reading:

The Great Chair: A Window on Effective Board Leadership by Bryan Hayward

Podcasts I'm listening to:

The Knowledge Project #102: Sendhil Mullainathan: The Chaos Inside Us

Connecting the Dots: Dr. Sanjay Parikh – Seattle Children's Hospital speaks on Continuous Improvement & Humble Inquir‪y‬

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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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