• Low-hanging fruit

    While I was taking an early morning walk, a patch of ripe blackberries caught my eye – a tasty treat of low-hanging fruit. As I sampled the ripe berries, my thoughts went to a time at work where our team didn’t see the low-hanging fruit.

  • Self-care

    Take a breath…pause for just a moment and take a deep breath. My family is in the final hours of preparing for a wedding, and the days have been long, intense, and emotional. Everyone is giving 100 percent. As we were jumping from one important activity to another, I remembered an experience I had last week of pausing to smell the roses.

  • Importance of continued measurement

    Have you ever held a kaizen workshop that resulted in significant improvement, only to find six months down the road that the process has reverted to the old ways and the improvement was no longer evident? Why does this happen?

  • Restoring joy to caregiving – reflections on National Nurses’ Week 2017

    Reflecting on the theme of National Nurses’ Week 2017 – “Nursing: the Balance of Mind, Body and Spirit” – I think about the importance of restoring joy to caregiving. When we use lean methodologies to take the waste and inefficiency out of work, we improve in the three dimensions of the Triple Aim: population health, patient experience, and cost. For the last few years, recognition has grown that a key dimension may be missing from that model:[1] a focus on staff engagement and the well-being of providers as a necessary element to achieving the Triple Aim.

  • Perfect takes practice

    Feeling adventurous, I went ocean kayaking. Having paddled before, I thought I was capable. As the professional instructor demonstrated the correct way to hold the paddle, I learned that my grip and arm position were wrong. Adjusting, I was ready to learn to paddle. I struggled with the correct movements, especially a flip back of the left wrist which I kept doing as a forward twist. The instructor coached me a few times before saying, “You’ll get it when you’re on the water.”

  • Step in, step up

    Recently, a team was doing a 5S workshop. A 5S workshop (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain) is an intensive week-long event that is a fundamental step to implementing lean process improvements. It involves letting go of treasure/junk that has accumulated as a safety net. Then, everything is put in place, cleaned, inspected, made predictable, andmaintained through auditing and 5-minute daily touch-ups. The process has been described as “bone crunching” or “gut wrenching” for the teams as they build consensus and make many, many tough decisions. It’s always a challenge.

  • Detours

  • Fail fast

    During a weekend photography class, I had the opportunity to try a unique lens. We took pictures in the morning, critiqued at lunch, took pictures at sunset, self-reflected, and repeated. In the space of a weekend, we had four rounds of experiments using PDCA (plan–do–check–act).

  • Plan–do–check–act (PDCA)

    In the 1950s, Dr. W. Edwards Deming presented the plan–do–check–act cycle[1] for learning and improvement, based on the continuous improvement cycle of his mentor, Dr. Walter Shewhart. PDCA is four steps for applying the scientific method to any size challenge, problem, or opportunity and to learn from the experience.

  • Go and see, again

    Same river as before, but a different day. And I went again the next day, to another part of the river with another dam. Each time, the view and experience were different. This time, there was heavy equipment on the dam doing maintenance. I like this as a reminder that workflows, like the infrastructure of roads, bridges, and dams, need maintenance. “Go and see” means seeing if the workplace is tidy, is standard work being followed, does the standard work fit? Are there new issues?


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