“Turn barriers into opportunities”
This first bit of advice was shared during the opening keynote presentation presented by Kathy Krusie, who is currently serving as CEO of Community Health Systems. Over the past few years Kathy has led lean transformations in three separate healthcare centers, learning many lessons along the way. Mercy Medical Center located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, presented Kathy with the conflict of what to do when barriers prevent improvement. In the case of Mercy Medical, the ground floor of the facility experienced major flooding back in 2008, resulting in a full-week shutdown of operations in order for the medical center to get back up to running capacity. Rather than treating this period as time-off and potentially setting the team’s transformation back a few steps, the organization offered employees the opportunity to get paid for education and training services. Many employees took advantage of this offer that ultimately resulted in the redesign of the medical centers emergency department. The disaster presented Kathy’s team with an opportunity to retool their workspace and improve efficiency and centralized services. Kathy’s experience should serve as a lesson for everyone to consider next time barriers make its way into the transformation process. “Is there an opportunity to build upon this?”
“Everyone at all levels is responsible for reviewing info and engaging in problem solving.”
In the second half of her presentation, Kathy spoke at length about staff accountability and how healthcare communities can best reinforce engagement across all levels of an organization. Using Community Health Network’s Management for Daily Improvement system (MDI) as an example, Kathy illustrated how both font-line employees and management can become responsible for solving problems with little help from outside sources. The idea behind the MDI system is to align goals and problem solving strategies with employees with the help of Gemba walks, huddles, and rounds. As caregivers and leadership become continuously involved with reviewing data and critical information as a group, caregivers will become more familiar with problem solving solutions while leadership will open the door to new coaching and developmental opportunities.
"Reach a tipping point: change message; create a CI method; Strategy Deployment, Huddles, Boards, Idea Systems"
Timothy Pehrson, the VP of the North Region for Intermountain Healthcare, hosted the second presentation of the day, which focused upon creating the “tipping point” for continuous improvement. Anyone that’s tried to get a healthcare facility knows just how difficult it can be to get leadership and decision makers onboard with a new strategy. Luckily, Timothy outlined a four-step process to make the adoption of continuous improvement welcome:
- Change messaging surrounding lean
- Create a continuous improvement method
- Strategy deployment
- Implement huddles, huddle boards, and idea systems
"Aligning purpose, process and people is the role of management"
John Shook, Chairman and CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute, closed out the conference with an interesting question: What is the role of a CEO or leader in a lean initiative? It’s a question that seems simple enough to answer, but difficult to act upon. Management essentially plays the role of the middleman, connecting process to people—or as John would put it, “"Aligning purpose, process and people is the role of management”. John capped off his presentation by presenting leaders with a few questions to consider asking in the midst of a transformation.
- What is our purpose; what value to create, or what problem are we trying to solve; what challenge to tackle?
- How do we design, do and improve the actual work?
- How do we ID and develop the capabilities we need?
- What management system and leader behaviors are needed to support the new way of working?
- What basic thinking or assumptions underlie this transformation?