Just around the corner is the New Year’s Day football tradition.  We are big sports fans in our house.  When we are watching a sporting event in person, we always like to have a good view of the scoreboard.  In fact, if you watch people walk into a stadium, the scoreboard is one of the first places most people look.   It is important to know if our favorite team is winning or losing.

How about in your hospital or clinic?  What is your scoreboard telling you?  One of my favorite questions to ask organizations new to Lean Healthcare is, “How do you know if you are winning or losing?  How does frontline staff know they are succeeding?”  I often get the response, “As long as no one dies, it’s a good day.”  Have we really set the bar that low?!

As we begin to implement Lean Healthcare principles in an organization, we utilize visual controls in order to help drive continuous improvement and prioritize problem solving activities.  A good visual board contains three key components:

There are two common pitfalls that leaders can make when using a system of visual controls:

  1. No leadership support.  Leaders have to check the scoreboard—they must make it a part of their everyday work to get out to the areas in which they oversee.  This will allow them to review the data boards and the associated problem solving by their staff.   A leader’s job is to coach and remove roadblocks the teams are having in their problem solving efforts.
  2. Requiring all visual controls to look the same.  Often times leaders latch on to the principle in Lean Healthcare of standardization.  However, requiring that all visual boards in the organization “look” the same shows a lack of understanding of the reason behind the visual controls.  Allowing areas to own their own data boards and with the History, Pareto, and Problem Solving components should be the standard.  The information that gets tracked and subsequently improved can be left up to each functional area of the organization.  This typically allows for more creativity and better problem solving. 

So how does your department, clinic, or hospital score with Visual Management?  Tweet pictures of your examples (good or bad) to @LeanHealthcare using #visualmanagement.

Today’s blog was written by Tom Stoffel, Vice President with HPP.

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.  He 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.  Tom is the developer of TGI Healing Healthcare – a brand of Lean Healthcare training tools designed to share lean principles through hands-on learning. 

Tom holds an Engineering Degree from the University of Michigan.


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