LeanHealthcare_ValuesWhat happens when you believe your values are not the same as those being propagated by a newly adopted Lean initiative?  Recently a colleague, who is an executive coach, shared this apparent disconnect a client of his was experiencing.  Indeed, his client was experiencing such a level of cognitive dissonance that she was considering leaving the organization.  And she was a rising star!

My colleague and I formulated the following coaching approach to help this up-and-coming executive to better understand what was going on in the organization and within her.  She completed a values inventory which was composed of:

  • Personal values
  • Organizational values
  • Lean values as professed by the organization and exhibited by behaviors

This inventory takes time. It is not a back-of-the-napkin exercise during a work break.

  1. Find time over several days to list your values and look for examples on how you are bringing these values to life. Mechanically, create a matrix of values and lived behaviors (observations of your behavior that align with your listed values).
  2. Start with the listed organizational values and begin to identify behavioral examples of how these are lived out within the organization.
  3. In lean initiatives, values may not be clearly articulated. However, the behaviors are visible. With an inquisitive mind, pay attention to what is being asked, reinforced by those leading the initiative.  Keep a running list of these behaviors.  Next translate these into value statements. What do you think these behaviors represent in terms of values?  Once you have named the values, take the time to review “Toyota Kata” by Mike Rother, the Shingo Prize Guidelines or other Lean resources.

Now that you have taken a deep dive into personal, organizational and Lean values, map the values using a simple grid, and bold those that are a match across the three categories. Step back and look for the positives across all three as well.  Using this common ground, engage key leaders in conversation to better understand how the underlying values fit within Lean and Continuous Improvement and your own personal values.

What happened to the executive who was ready to leave her organization?  She was able to reaffirm how aligned she was to her organization.  More importantly, she was able to have a constructive conversation with the Lean initiative executive champion and her supervisor.  The three were able to explore why she was initially experiencing disconnects and through this dialogue the organization modified some of the initiative’s roll-out plan to include more engagement of the key executives responsible for operations.


KirkwoodBillRSToday’s blog was written by Bill Kirkwood, Ph.D., director at HPP.

Bill has 30 years of healthcare leadership experience in both system and individual hospital settings across the United States.  His experience includes change management activities, Lean transformation engagements and serving in an executive capacity in quality, operations and human resources. He holds a Masters in Health Administration from Xavier University and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Organizational Behavior from the Union Institute and University. 

Photo by GotCredit/CC By

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