Monday, December 7, 2015

Healthcare Lean Safety Gemba Walk

I finally, after five years of helping many diverse manufacturing and construction businesses understand and use Lean Safety to engage their employees and move lean forward, was invited to train a senior leadership team at a medical center. The highlight of the day long workshop was the Lean Safety Gemba Walk. It provided me the opportunity to demonstrate that the Lean Safety approach is as valuable in a hospital facility as it is in a manufacturing plant or on a construction site.

The internal organizational development staff who had hired me was concerned about my lack of lean training experience in a hospital setting. I wasn't, for I understand that "a process is a process and people are people." All business types are composed of business processes that can be viewed, process mapped and improved and lean success, in any business type, is exactly the same - engaged lean savvy employees working together to improve their customer's experience.

In many manufacturing facilities gemba walks have become standard work for leadership. By using humble inquiry and asking why five times on their walk through the gemba leaders can begin to build new relationships with those doing the physical work. To speed this trust building process leaders should give focus to employee safety on their gemba walks. Doing this allows leaders to hit the engagement sweet spot for giving focus to employee safety answers the "what's in it for me" question that needs to be answered for all employees. Dialogue that results in work processes being made safer and easier (Lean Safety) quickly bridges and begins to repair the trust gap that is ever present between management and the workforce.

The workshop at the medical center focused the attendees on the need to go to the gemba in order build a different type of relationship with their staff. After some PowerPoint slides and small group exercises I led the attendees on a guided Lean Safety Gemba Walk. On our walk we engaged and observed some of their staff at work and listed the opportunities that would improve both safety and cycle times. After this eye opening experience the senior leaders were divided into teams of three and sent to assigned areas to learn by doing.

Following their gemba walks each small team stood before their peers in a report out session and talked about both the opportunities for improvement that had been identified and their employee engagement experiences. As I sat in the back of the room listening to each of them talk about the value of engaging their staff I knew my day had been successful. Attaining my personal goal, to change the world - or at least how the world views work place safety, was now a little bit closer for I had the senior leadership team at a Medical Center moving the Lean Safety methodology forward.

I hope each and ever one of you has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe!