Here's a heartening story from Alexandra Wilson Picci at HealthLeaders Media, entitled "NC Rural Hospitals Lean Together to Zap Waste." An excerpt:
With the help of the North Carolina Hospital Association, a consulting firm, and a grant from the Duke Endowment, Caldwell Memorial Hospital teamed with four other hospitals to learn how to apply lean management principles. The hospitals shared ideas and resources, including funding and consulting services, and attended each other's learning events.
This is a great way to mitigate the expenses of a Lean program and share the enthusiasm. As you have seen in examples on this blog, a portion of the Lean approach consists of rapid improvement events. These focus on specific value streams within the organization, mapping out the entire work flow, identifying areas of waste, and experimenting with a new process. Here's a wonderful quote about how this kind of employee engagement works:
"It's remarkable to watch employees sit down and map out issues and discover possible solutions in a team environment and then have the wherewithal and the authority to implement these changes and see if they work," said Edgar Haywood III, president and CEO at Dosher Memorial Hospital, which is part of the new Eastern North Carolina Rural Hospital Lean Collaborative.
Caldwell Memorial CEO Laura Easton added a key point:
"This is not something that you can delegate to one of your executives," she said. "I think Lean is only really appropriate if the CEO is committed to changing the way they operate the organization, and learning too, and being part of running their organization in a new and different way."
She is right, of course. As I have noted, like physical systems in which entropy takes over, consistently applied energy is necessary to maintain the process improvement system that we call Lean. Without commitment from the top, the process will wither. Congratulations to this group of CEOs for walking the walk.