Much of the focus in a Lean Healthcare transformation regards changing the way people think about their work. Yes, changing the way people think is important but, the culture of an organization is key to success or failure. One of the best known cultures in the business world is that of Southwest Airlines—it is run with three main principles: Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and Fun-LUVing Attitude.
The above video clip is a great example of how Southwest’s Fun-LUVing attitude shines through each day. It’s no wonder that Southwest regulars often become groupies. Their customer service has created a loyal following.
Southwest’s recent acquisition of Airtran Airlines will make for some interesting challenges on merging the two cultures. Gary Kelly, Southwest CEO, discusses the “Importance of Culture” in a leter written to Airtran employees this month.
During the Lean Healthcare transformation process, our job is to use tools and data to help mold the culture of a healthcare organization into an army of problem solvers. However, this work is done subtly. Culture is not a word used in most business settings. To quote Kelly, “Twenty years ago, most companies and business schools didn’t talk about Culture. In fact, most folks thought Culture had to do with Beethoven or fine French wine.”
Organizations that look only at the Tools of Lean Healthcare are missing out. The tools are extremely effective at targeting and eliminating waste. However, they do not define you as an organization. Culture is an extension of the vision of the organization and is, therefore, owned by Leadership. Kelly stresses to employees, “Your business plan is what you are, but Culture is who you are. Culture needs support from Leadership and the Frontline Employee. Without both, it will surely wither.”
For long-term sustainability, we must pay specific attention to key components of culture and develop a plan to improve it. How do leaders spend their time? How do we handle problems that arise in everyday work? How do we know if we had a good day or bad day? These are simple elements of culture – but critical to long term success.
Rapping flight attendants or not, how does your organization’s culture shine through in your employees? Comment below to let us know OR join the discussion on our Lean Healthcare Exchange LinkedIn Group.
This week’s article was written by Tom Stoffel, a director & consultant for HPP. Before joining HPP, Tom served as President of Transformation Group, Inc,. Tom developed TGI Healing Healthcare – a brand of Lean Healthcare training tools designed to share lean principles through hands-on learning. Tom has led healthcare organizations in both the development of high-level Lean Strategies down to hands-on implementation of Lean in a clinical setting. Tom has achieved the levels of Certified Lean Specialist from the Business Improvement Group and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), along with being an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer. These certifications build on an Engineering Degree from the University of Michigan. Training experience includes Lean, Quality, and Leadership Training, as well as serving as an Adjunct Faculty Member at Waubonsee Community College.