Kaizen Live!

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Joe Swartz and Mark Graban are organizing an event at Franciscan St. Francis Health for people to see and hear what a Kaizen “culture of continuous improvement” looks like first hand.

Contact us to learn about future Kaizen Live! events in 2017 (or possibly later in 2016).

Attendee Comments:

Thank you for putting this together. This is what people should be doing instead of going to conferences.”

“There were several key items that made the workshop beneficial for our organization, including the firsthand experience of the culture from the viewpoint of the leaders, and especially front line employees. In short, the workshop was the boost we needed to further our journey.”

“This workshop was an exceptionally valuable opportunity for learning about the journey of a successful Kaizen organization in healthcare. The opportunity to Gemba walk with front-line employees that have not only engaged in Kaizen, but have fully embraced it as ‘Kaizeneers,’ made this an invaluable experience.”

“If you have a process improvement program that delivers OK results, but fails to really connect with staff, there is a better way. Mark and Joe have outlined a simple and highly effective way for staff and managers to embrace daily process improvement. The results are evident with the pride and deep engagement demonstrated by the team at Franciscan St. Francis Health.”

“This is a great workshop. Mark and Joe did a wonderful job of getting us to the gemba and interacting with the wonderful staff at St. Francis. It was eye opening to see how the front line staff have woven kaizen into their daily activities.”

The inaugural April 2015 and 2016 workshops is sold out are now history.

2016 Event Schedule:

  • Optional class(es) covering Kaizen 101 and Kaizen Coaching
    • Monday April 4
  • Main Kaizen Live! event
    • Tuesday April 5 and Wednesday April 6
    • See the 2016 agenda (PDF)

To easily re-visit this page, use the URL www.KaizenLive.com.


About the Main Kaizen Live! Workshop – April 5 and 6, 2016

(Read more about the optional class on April 4):

Since 2007, Franciscan St. Francis Health has engaged staff to implement and document about 25,000 improvements, both large and small. They have improved the patient experience, quality, and safety, while creating a better workplace and saving millions of dollars. The NICU, for example, is in the 99th percentile for patient/family satisfaction and their manager attributes this to their Kaizen process and ideas that were implemented by their staff.

Need a PDF flyer about the event to share with your manager? Click here.

You’ve read about “Healthcare Kaizen” and Franciscan’s success with continuous improvement. Now, come visit this Indianapolis-based health system to hear about and see Kaizen in practice for a full day on April 5th and the morning of April 6th.

In this 1.5-day workshop, you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Learn from Joe Swartz about his ten+ years at Franciscan spent teaching Kaizen practices and coaching staff and leaders, as Director of Business Transformation
  • Also learn from Mark Graban about how to get started with Kaizen, based on his experience helping health systems around the world with Lean and continuous improvement
  • Hear directly from Franciscan St. Francis executives and leaders, as they explain their critical role in fostering a culture of continuous improvement, lessons learned, and more
  • Visit departments (such as pharmacy, NICU, endoscopy, etc.) in small groups to see and hear about Kaizen in practice
  • See and hear about Kaizen improvements from the people who implemented them
  • Learn about how they use technology to spread and share improvements across three sites
  • Participate in discussions about your own active (or planned) continuous improvement journey
  • Enjoy a group dinner the evening of April 4 and an optional gathering the evening of April 5

Our goal is to minimize the amount of time in didactic lecture mode and to maximize the amount of time spent in discussions, gemba visits, and Q&A sessions. You’ll have unprecedented access to Franciscan leaders and staff and you’ll have a great opportunity to really see and feel what a culture of continuous improvement looks like.

This workshop is designed for C-level executives, vice presidents and directors, continuous improvement staff, physician leaders, and more. You can get a special rate by bringing a group of three or more to learn and experience this together.

Starting in early March, you will also have access to an hour-long “Intro to Kaizen” online course that will provide an introduction to these topics. We recommend completing this online work before April 5 to maximize your on-site experience.

We also encourage attendees to first read either of these books co-authored by Joe Swartz and Mark Graban:

Read About Highlights from the 2015 Event

Key lessons and highlights from 2015:

#KaizenLive!Last Wednesday and Thursday, I collaborated with Joe Swartz and a countless number of his colleagues to host 24 visitors from different health systems (and an Indiana state government organization) to learn about the "Kaizen" approach to continuous improvement first hand at Joe's health system - Franciscan St. Francis Health in Indianapolis. I tend to "take notes" these days via Twitter and you can read all of my tweets and quotes if you like. Here are a few highlights, incorporating some of these tweets, as appropriate. Welcome and Greetings As in the Franciscan tradition, the meeting was started with an invocation from Sister Martha Ann, one of the five nuns who still help run the hospital (and she's a certified Lean Sigma Green Belt). Sister Martha Ann Appropriately, for the type of improvement work we all do, she invoked the "Serenity Prayer" in her remarks: O God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, The courage to change what can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other CEO Bob Brody We also had opening remarks from their CEO, Bob Brody: Yes, the memory and principles of W. Edwards Deming are alive and well. Brody said, "The first thing to do is drive out fear. It's not people, it's processes that fail." He added: "We're constantly looking for ways to improve our own performance. Improve value & services for our patients. It adds up." Perhaps thinking back to Deming's "survival is optional quote," Brody said: "Continual improvement is absolutely necessary if we're going to survive." CNO Susan McRoberts Their CNO, Susan McRoberts, gave a longer talk about their Kaizen approach and their journey toward being a culture of continuous improvement. She said: "There have been a lot of fads, but Lean Six Sigma is not one of them. It works." Why do they do Kaizen? Because it saves time It's data driven It makes life easier Because it's short and sweet It can be, for the most part, generalized Because it changes the culture This was a key point for the attendees... the idea that the PRACTICE of Kaizen leads to a culture of continuous improvement. One attendee commented that she had, basically, gotten stuck in a trap where they felt like they couldn't try Kaizen because they didn't have the right culture in place. Nobody ever has that culture in place when they start and the attendees learned a powerful lesson (or were reminded of that). See my past blog post about how the best time to start is today. Some other comments from McRoberts: That's an important point... it has to be OK for people to "make mistakes" but that doesn't give us a blank check to act recklessly. Find the right balance... We have to help staff realize when they are just working around a bad process instead of fixing the cause of the problem. Listen to Mark read the post (learn more): You have to help create an environment where people can speak up: And leaders need to be helpful, not "the boss." And, if individuals struggle with Kaizen, that's the responsibility of the leader to help fix that instead of blaming them as being bad people. As a nurse, McRoberts realize that it's all about the patient and the need to improve their care: But they do try to add up cost savings when they see it (and they have finance validate large savings): See a video about a Kaizen that simultaneously made life better for the nurses, the patients, and saved $30,000 a year. She finished her comments with praise for Joe Swartz (who is incredibly humble). Kaizen fits with the hospital's values and, in particular, the Franciscan Values. The Current State of Kaizen Before we went on the first of our gemba visits, Joe talked about the current state of Kaizen at Franciscan and what their current challenges are. They measure the percentage of employees who formally participate in the "quick and easy kaizen" program. Last year it was 38%. Their goal this year is 50% participation and their long-term goal is to have everybody participate. In the early days of their Lean Sigma approach, they didn't have a robust approach to continuous improvement. You have to help people see the benefits of Kaizen - what's in it for them and their patients? When you show real examples of Kaizen improvements (especially small stuff), people say "Oh, I can do that!" and they participate. That was a key lesson for one attendee, who is going to go back and do a better job of showing people examples of the types of Kaizen improvements they are looking for to get started (little stuff, not million-dollar ideas). Joe dropped a lot of wisdom on the group, including: I like to emphasize that everybody struggles with Kaizen at first. That's OK. That's to be expected. But you need coaching and support, rather than being left to flounder. You need to find ways to make them WANT to participate in Kaizen. This was a lesson repeated by all managers -- the role of managers is not to collect suggestions and do all of the work themselves! Emergency Department Improvements Joe talked about improving the emergency department by breaking a big problem up into smaller Kaizens. And they improved inpatient satisfaction: The Spread of Kaizen They have successfully used Kaizen in their three Indianapolis hospitals. But, the larger "Franciscan Alliance" organization has hospitals in other parts of Indiana and the Chicago area. They've tried to spread these practices, but: Coming Soon In future blog posts, I'll share thoughts about the gemba visits to the NICU (where I helped host) and thoughts from the discussions and sessions led by different department directors. If you'd like to sign up to be notified about a possible workshop, please contact us. Or, read more about the workshops.

Click to read more

Photos from the First Workshop



See this video with Franciscan staff and leaders talking about their Kaizen approach:

You’ll see how Franciscan staff are “Kaizen crazy” and excited about improvement (read more):

You’ll hear from Franciscan managers who have MORE time in their day because they’ve developed their people and their problem solving skills (read more):

Click here for more videos


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