Lean Healthcare consultants typically spend a lot of time in airports.  All frequent travelers learn that once you are inside the bubble of the airport safe zone, the options for entertainment are limited.

Personally, I like to watch people.  One can really learn a lot about how people react to the stressors that are created from being inside the seemingly endless corridors littered with newsstands, on-the-go food, loud talking cell phone users totally oblivious to everyone else, and shoulder-to-shoulder bustling to the next gate. If we watch closely, there is also much to learn about processes that add additional fun to the intrepid but weary travel experience.

Behind the gate counter, an early 1990s dot matrix printer hums while spitting out an endless raa..tatt..tatt..zazazazazz……raa..tatt…tatt….tattt….zazazazazazazazazzzz. The reams of paper that are held together by small perforations pull slowly one page at a time from an open paper box on the floor through the printer then spill over the finished paper basket back onto the floor below.

After several minutes of printing, an airline attendant appears and gathers the paper from the floor back into the finished paper basket.  After several more minutes, two from the ground crew appear from the tarmac donned in florescent vesting and protective ear muffs that wrap and cling in a near circle shape around their necks. They assemble in front of the printer, sift briefly through the papers, then step back and wait.  Now the pilot arrives, sifts though the papers, and then takes a step back to wait on his copy. In the meantime, approximately two hundred passengers (also known as ‘customers’) wait on a dot matrix printer.


The waste of “waiting” is something Lean Healthcare professionals see on a regular basis. Caregivers wait on meds, wait on orders, and they wait on test results in addition to many other support processes that drive the waste of waiting. Of course, these factors in turn create waiting for the vulnerable patient. Pause for a second in your busy day to observe, and an example will quickly reveal itself to you. However, the waste of “waiting” is only one of the eight wastes. Lean Healthcare recognizes seven other wastes: excess inventory, over production, defects and rework, confusion, transportation, excess processing, and motion.

Do you have an inefficient system akin to a ‘dot matrix printer’ creating waste in your day?
This week’s blog was written by Ronnie Daughtry, a Director at HPP. Ronnie has over 15 years of Lean and continuous improvement experience. Ronnie started his process improvement career at Robert Bosch Corporation as the Division Director of their Continuous Improvement Process and Bosch Production System. He then worked for The Access Group (TAG), a Lean and Engineering Consulting firm, as their Director of Operations. There he helped assist companies is implementing Lean principles and concepts into their processes. The past few years Ronnie has been the Senior Professional Vice President at TranSystems, a Supply Chain Management consulting firm. While there he trained over 600 people in Lean Six Sigma and applied Hoshin Kanri within entire organizations. He worked closely with Smith Electric Vehicles and was the co-developer of the Smith Production System. Ronnie has led many organizations through the Lean Transformation process. Ronnie  received his undergraduate degree in Management and Human Resources and went on to get his Masters Degree in Organization Development with a concentration on Total Quality Leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee.

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