Why Samantha Riley Prescribes “Making Data Count” in the NHS England as a Cure for Spuddling

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My guest for Episode #413 of the Lean Blog Interviews podcast is Samantha Riley, the Deputy Director of Intensive Support for NHS England and Improvement. Sam is the author of an amazing publication called “Making Data Count,” which you can read and experience freely online.

Sam and I are “Twitter buddies,” as she said and I follow and enjoy her tweets, especially those using the hashtag #PlotTheDots. We are both users and teachers of (and advocates for) the use of Statistical Process Control charts (aka XmR Charts or Process Behavior Charts) as taught by the statistician Don Wheeler.

Topics, questions, and links related to today's episode include:

  • What's Sam's professional background and why it's OK that she's not a statistician
  • Why are RAG (Red Amber Green) charts or tables insufficient?
  • How do you have the conversation with boards, executives, and managers about RAG being insufficient?
    • How to bring people to the table for this learning?
  • Why are up/down comparisons and color coding leading to “knee jerk reactions”?
  • What is “spuddling“? Why is that a problem?

Spuddling: To make a lot of fuss about trivial things, as if it were important.

  • 50% of boards have changed their approach — how has that come to be?
  • What language do you use about improving a predictable system?
  • How did you get exposed to Statistical Process Control?
  • What led to “Making Data Count“?
  • What was “the ham sandwich incident”?
    • How can we use these charts to look at our weight and health?
    • Tweets about this:

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in their 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity, and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network

You can listen to the audio or watch the video, below. I hope you enjoy it like I did.



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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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