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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