Lean Healthcare CultureAs spring moves closer to summer, I am spending my free time nurturing my vegetable garden.  This is only my second year of tending this particular garden, so I am on a journey learning my role in cultivating and what will grow best.  At the same time, I am privileged to work with many healthcare leaders who are attempting to grow a lean culture within their organizations.  Lean Healthcare is not a seed you can plant and then walk away; it requires attention from the leaders in order to grow a culture which provides increasing value and decreasing waste.

Starting from seed or purchasing plants

This spring was busy, so I chose a mixed approach.  I purchased some plants from the garden center and started some from seeds.  You might relate to growing your Lean Healthcare program—where a blend of investing in your own staff training and a bit of external knowledge and skills infused into your organization may be needed to either jump start or reinvigorate your Lean Healthcare transformation.

Preparing for growth

In both cases I needed to prepare the soil.  Much like with any change we implement within our organizations, we need to prepare for change.  Making the business case occurs with each improvement activity at all levels of the organization.  Whether you are looking at a small specific problem using A3 problem solving or a large strategic initiative, the first place to start is to identify the business case for investing time and talent in the improvement.  The business case, or what we call the Value Diamond, will consider satisfaction, quality, cost and time.  Solutions will eliminate waste and bring improvement to all four quadrants of the diamond.  An improvement that only improves one quadrant has not truly eliminated waste and much like your garden preparation, may not yield high value.

Daily attention

The month of May is always a little interesting for weather in Colorado and this particular spring has definitely challenged my gardening skills.  Our weather has varied from beautiful sunny, dry days in the high 80’s to thunderstorms with hail and even snow.  To ensure the successful growth of my vegetables, I have to pay attention to key metrics—which give me early warning of problems that I can address with countermeasures.  In my garden, that means I need to pay attention to the weather forecast and plan for countermeasures of either watering or not watering, covering or not covering the plants, and removing the weeds.  If I wait for the storm to actually strike, I will miss the opportunity and my plants will suffer the consequences of a freeze or hail damage.   So is true with Lean Healthcare, daily attention to critical metrics is required.  Systems and structures need to be put in place including:  leadership standard work, gemba walks and team huddles to identify problems early and implement countermeasures.

I could continue on with this analogy, but I think you get the point.    What are you doing this summer to grow your Lean Healthcare garden?

This week’s blog was written by Maureen Sullivan, a Senior Manager at HPP.

Maureen has over 28 years of healthcare experience in clinical nursing, management and quality leadership to Healthcare Performance Partners.  As a registered nurse, Maureen’s clinical experience is in medical surgical nursing with progressive responsibilities in nursing management at the front line, middle management, and administrative levels.

Maureen has an associate degree in Nursing from Joliet Junior College and a bachelor of science in nursing with an emphasis in healthcare management from Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado. Maureen achieved certification from the National Association for Healthcare Quality, certified professional in healthcare quality (CPHQ), Colorado State University in process mapping, and University of Michigan in Lean Healthcare.

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