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Kaizen Tips

Trying to do all of the improvement work yourself as a manager?

“Many hands make for light work.” – John Heywood

If Kaizen and continuous improvement are overwhelming to you as a leader, ask yourself if you are delegating enough? Are you distributing the improvement workload across your team?

Managers don’t have to do it all. Rely more on your team. Teach them how to do Kaizen. Coach them and let them shine.

 

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Kaizen Tips

Work to Implement Ideas

See the entire KaiNexus improvement tips video series here.

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Kaizen Tips

Kaizen is Usually a Team Sport

What is Kaizen?

By Mark Graban

A Kaizen idea, whether it’s the identification of a problem or a proposed countermeasure, usually starts with one person.

Then, things go through the full Kaizen process:

  1. Find problems or ideas
  2. Discuss them in the team
  3. Test and implement them
  4. Document what was done
  5. Share what was done with others

The second step, the discussion, is where things often turn from an individual effort to a team sport. We talk about the problem to clarify what we are trying to fix. We discuss to see if there’s a quick fix or if root cause analysis is needed. Most of the way, it’s a team effort, even if that team is just two or three people.

Read the full post at LeanBlog.org

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Kaizen Tips

Quantifying the Benefits

In the Kaizen process, it’s important to document our improvements – the before, the after, and the benefits.

Not every Kaizen will have a quantifiable ROI. Many do, but we don’t make that a requirement for approving ideas or for recognizing people.

To get people engaged and participating in Kaizen, we encourage people to identify any small problem and to fix it. This might lead to benefits in patient satisfaction, staff time savings, or other areas that are harder to put into dollars and cents.

But, as Joe and I say in Healthcare Kaizen, it’s important to quantify things when you can. When I’ve been coaching people lately and looking at their Kaizen write ups, I end up asking questions like:

  • How much paper was saved each week? How many reams? What does that cost?
  • How long do nurses wait for the system to log in? How many times per day do they do that? What’s the total amount of time? How much faster is the system now?

You should strive to quantify benefits when you can. Again, it’s not always about money. It’s good to know that a change was a “change for the better” and it’s even better to know “how much better” things are compared to the past.

Are you helping your staff and managers learn how to better quantify the results of your Kaizen improvements?

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Kaizen Tips

Spreading and Sharing Ideas

What is Kaizen?

By Mark Graban

iStock_000014537457XSmallIn the Kaizen process, we emphasize how important it is to involve everybody in continuous improvement. We identify local issues and identify solutions to test locally, following the PDSA cycle.

That said, how can we leverage ideas across a larger organization? Does everybody need to solve the same problem individually?

Let’s say you are part of a ten-hospital health system. If Pharmacy A identifies a problem, how do we find out if Pharmacies B through J have the same problem or some variation of it? Can we find a way to let people communicate collaborate across sites in a structured way? If Pharmacy A implements an improvement, how do Pharmacies B through J learn about it? Will they choose to implement that Kaizen too?

It’s very important that Kaizen ideas are not forced on others. What’s often described as a “roll out” process often makes people feel “rolled over.” That’s demoralizing and it doesn’t encourage participation in other Kaizen activities.

We can share ideas in a way that invites others to adopt them. Improvements are really only sustainable when people CHOOSE to adopt them. Do the other sites have the same problem to solve? Do the same solutions apply, given their circumstances? Do Pharmacies B through J have the ability to improve upon what Pharmacy A came up with? I bet they would.

Instead of rolling out one solution to others, to be copied exactly, we should be continually improving our Kaizen improvements as they are spread. Pharmacy B might find an even better way and then share that back with Pharmacy A. Now they’re both better than if they just used Pharmacy A’s solution.

We can learn from others and copy where appropriate… but we need to make sure we don’t stifle our own Kaizen and our own learning. How do you share ideas across your broader multi-site organization? Shared drives? Sharepoint? Spreadsheets?KaiNexus?

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Kaizen Tips

Ideas and Root Causes

What is Kaizen?

By Mark Graban

In the Kaizen process, we ask everybody to identify problems (or opportunities) and then to write down an idea that could potentially solve the problem (at least to some extent). What’s written down on the card is the starting point for discussion within a team or with a supervisor.

When coaching an organization on Kaizen recently, I got a really good question from a physician who had taken the excellent week-long Lean healthcare training at the University of Michigan. She said that, in the Lean training, they said you should never “jump to a solution” in the course of problem solving. She raises a good point.

Many of the things brought up through this Kaizen process don’t require any root cause analysis. Some problems, “Our IV trays are disorganized” have a somewhat obvious solution, “Organize the trays and remove unneeded items.”

Some problems are more complex, such as “Patients are waiting too long in the waiting room.” We couldn’t really jump to a solution there. We’d want to do root cause analysis and maybe manage this through an “A3 problem solving process” or something more rigorous.

As leaders, we learn how to triage things that are submitted through the Kaizen process. It is an easy “just fix it”? If so, we can have a bias for action and test ideas experimentally, in the PDSA approach. If it’s a more complicated problem or something with a non-obvious solution, we can start an A3 or get a Rapid Improvement Event sponsored. This can all work together.

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Kaizen Tips

Avoid the Shut Down

What is Kaizen?

By Joe Swartz

A few years ago, I discovered that our organization’s most prolific “Kaizeneer” (a person who does Kaizen) from the year before hadn’t yet completed a single Kaizen in the new year.

So, I approached her and said, “Thanks so much for your great contributions last year. I noticed that we hadn’t received any Kaizens from you this year and was wondering why.”

“I have a new manager and she doesn’t get it,” she said, shaking her head from side to side. “My old manager was very encouraging and supportive of my ideas. My new manager has said ‘no’ to my ideas.” She looked down and turned up her hands, “and so I simply stopped doing Kaizen.”

The leader’s role is critical to creating a culture of continuous improvement. Leaders can shut down employees wanting to do Kaizen. It only takes a few “no’s” and even the most motivated and engaged employee can shut down.

We coach our leaders to aim for a 90% or greater Kaizen implementation rate. Our pharmacy department, which is a tightly regulated area with inherent patient safety risks, has been able to achieve an 89% Kaizen implementation rate.

This doesn’t mean a supervisor or manager has to say yes to every “crazy” idea. This does mean that they should search for a kernel of good in each idea and work with the Kaizeneer to create something that can be implemented from every idea.

For example, an idea to build a parking garage shouldn’t be summarily dismissed. Instead, a supervisor can dialog with the Kaizeneer and understand what it is about a parking garage that they want. If they want to keep out of the rain, could the Kaizeneer test using an umbrella? If it is to keep ice or sun off of their car, could they test a car cover for their car? Each of these relatively inexpensive ideas, and many more, could be tested prior to going through the exercise of attempting to cost justify a new parking garage.

The goal of Kaizen is to develop employees by helping them identify creative ideas that they can implement and test themselves. Figuring out how to say yes to each and every idea not only avoids shutting down employees, but it can also creates energy and excitement and opens up the flow of more creative ideas.

Originally posted at leanblog.org

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Kaizen Tips

The First Rule: Keep Ideas with the Creator

What is Kaizen?

By Joe Swartz

A few months ago one of our new managers asked me, “Should Kaizen take four to eight hours of my time each week?”

That startled me, because I knew she managed one of our smaller departments.

So I said, “Tell me about your Kaizen coaching sessions.” She said, “My employees come to me with an idea and I add it to my ‘To Do’ list.”

“Ooooh!” I said, in my outside voice, wishing I had kept that inside.

She looked at my eyes and lowered her eyebrows. I thought, this is proof we need to do a better job orienting our new managers to Kaizen.

I said, “Who has more energy, excitement, and ownership around each idea – you or the creator of the idea?” She looked at the ceiling for a moment and said, “The creator.”

“Yes,” I said, “So, if keeping an organization energized is important, who should implement that idea?” “The creator,” she said. “You’ve got it,” I said,

“Instead of taking on their ideas, we want you to keep each idea with the person who created the idea. Then, you can coach them on how they can implement their own idea.”

She accepted my coaching and a few weeks later she said, “Kaizen is taking much less of my time now. Also, my staff used to come to me with problems without ideas to solve them, and counted on me to solve them and implement the solutions. Now, they are coming to me with problems coupled with ideas that they can implement with the help of others. Now I am their coach.”

Managers tend to be action oriented and tend to want to eagerly take on all the improvement work, which leads to them getting overloaded.

One way to avoid taking on too much is to keep ideas in the hands of the creator of the idea. It also promotes ownership of each idea. It also forces employees to search for and identify solutions to problems, which causes them to learn and become better at solving problems and improving. Managers and supervisors should lead the Kaizens that they come up with, so they learn to do Kaizen themselves. However, they should resist the temptation to take on implementing other’s ideas. Instead they should coach and support.

Originally posted at leanblog.org

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Kaizen Tips

25 Key Leader Behaviors that Encourage Continuous Improvement

Click the link or photo below to see (and hear) this webinar given by Mark Graban and Greg Jacobson, of KaiNexus:

25 Key Leader Behaviors
that Encourage
Continuous Improvement

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