How many Kaizen events should we do per year?  Is completing 5 A3’s per week enough?  What areas should we focus on?  Should we do multiple quick wins and see what happens?  What approach should we use to communicate to our staff that this is the new vehicle the organization has decided to continue with improving the system?  When will we know that we are there or that this new philosophy and way of thinking is working and making a difference?  What’s next?

These are common questions I often hear or get asked from organizations that have done a number of lean activities and are starting on their own with lean healthcare.

As we say in six sigma “It depends”…  Yes! It really depends on many things.  It depends on what your organization wants to accomplish and needs to accomplish.  There are many questions that you can ask about your healthcare setting and team to form your lean roadmap.  What is the scope, and what are your outcomes and expectations?

  • How mature is your culture to new ways of thinking and at what speed can these principles be digested and implemented?
  • What tools and metrics are you currently using to guide you to process improvements and do they fit the issue to outcome?
  • Do we really know and are we honest about our strengths and weaknesses as an organization?
  • What was good and what could have been better about the last several KPI?
  • What’s the level of commitment and accountability?
  • Are your lean engagements and activities aligned to your yearly business case?
  • Where should your organization be now and where should it be 1, 3, and5 years from now?

There’s no lean-o-meter or recipe out there that will clearly tell you that you need x number of Kaizen events per year, or this and that number of lean activities per week, month, and per year.  When determining what your facility needs are, always remember that you can apply LEAN in your organization.

Most things start and end with leadership.  A ship never sails without a captain.

Eliminating Waste:
Focusing on the things that adds no value to patients, staff, physicians and the system as a whole.

Acting Now:
Yes! Take action now… Some issues don’t need a committee or another meeting to be solved.  Patients and staff experience and see it every day.

Never ending:
Meeting or exceeding the benchmark should not be your only goal.  Nature never stops changing and adjusting to survive.

This is an individual process for each organization.  If you can answer these questions truthfully and apply the LEAN principles, you will have your individual roadmap or recipe for success with lean.

Today’s blog was written by Alex Maldonado, a Senior Manager with HPP.

Alex’s professional experience includes process improvement, operational, and leadership positions in the medical delivery systems and appliance manufacturing industries with Baxter Healthcare and Whirlpool.  Alex has had a successful track record in improving results-driven processes with an emphasis in personnel training, project leadership, and operating systems designed to improve customer service and sustainability.  He has led the development and implementation of processes to support Lean initiatives that reduce critical path lead-time, reduce expediting costs, capital improvement projects, inventory reduction, and trained and educated staff/employees in Lean Methodology.

Alex has a B.S. in Industrial Technology Engineering from Mississippi State University and has also completed the Six-Sigma black belt program.

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