Most people have started a web search for something of interest, and after a few clicks found not only the object of our search, but, off to the side, a list of suggested links to related items.
Packing for a recent Denver Health site visit with a client, I searched for:
A link on the side: Denver Climatology
A link on the side: High Altitude Tips
“Drink water, dress in layers, eat foods high in potassium”
Interesting. I wasn’t really looking for that, but good information to know. Maybe I should pack a banana for the potassium.
Why do I need extra potassium? Oh! Where was I? All I really wanted was the weather forecast for the next two days…
Recently, my wife, a Tokyo native, asked if I had seen any videos of Michio Kaku, an American theoretical physicist of Japanese decent. On the web you can find many interesting lectures along the lines of Richard Feynman and Carl Sagan. So we watch a few videos, and then start exploring the links to the side.
You might be interested in: Quotes by Carl Sagan
A few clicks later, I find:
“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”
- Carl Sagan
This quote struck me as very applicable to my Lean healthcare work.
I am often asked how to handle a given problem, “What does Lean healthcare say about Cath Lab scheduling?” (or another similar problem) A look of anticipation suggests that I am supposed to dip into my “Lean Answers to Everything Book” and reply immediately with “The Profound Answer.”
The quickest answer is, “I don’t know, but let’s find out.”
Lean, like Sagan’s comment on science, is an approach to problems. It is a way of thinking, not necessarily a collection of answers. Lean healthcare tools and principles bring a scientific approach to problem solving that allows us to improve based on experiments.
For now, the best countermeasure (not necessarily a single “correct answer”) is a result of our tests in our environment with our people. Different organizations or departments may even come to different answers given their different contexts:
Organization A: mostly diagnostic tests, with a small percentage of interventions
Organization B: regional cardiac referral center with a high percentage of unscheduled emergent interventions
Surely, there are different needs. There is no single “Lean Answer.” By applying a Lean way of thinking, we can define the issue, understand the current state, investigate the root cause and run tests to determine a new method that will improve on the initial problem (A3 Problem Solving, perhaps?).
As we go through these cycles of improvement, we often uncover more problems or opportunities, leading to more questions, leading to more “I don’t know,” more discoveries, more experiments, ad infinitum.
Much like a series of endless links on the web, Lean healthcare is a never-ending endeavor.
Today’s post was written by Richard Tucker, Vice President with HPP.
Richard has served as a coach, facilitator, and project manager for healthcare clients in the training and implementation of Lean Healthcare Tools and Methodologies. Prior to joining HPP, Richard had over sixteen years of business and industry experience in operational and leadership positions. In addition to his ongoing support of healthcare organizations in their lean journey, Richard is a founding faculty member of Belmont University’s Lean Healthcare Certificate Course. Richard’s educational background includes BS and MS degrees from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee. Richard has attended formal training courses in Lean Manufacturing, Leadership Development, and Shainin Statistical Problem Solving.