Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bullish on the Container Store

Quick, buy stock in the Container Store. As we continue with our expanded use of Lean process improvement techniques at BIDMC -- often originating from a BIDMC SPIRIT call-out -- a big part of each project seems to be reorganizing stuff. Here's an example from a recent exercise in our food service area.

The "before" picture shows you what things were like for the folks who organize and retrieve kitchen and serving supplies. Notice the mish-mosh of boxes, and look to see how hard it is for the staff member to reach the high shelf. Also, consider how dangerous it is for her to do so, with the chance of boxes falling on her head. The supplies themselves are kept in the original packing boxes, requiring someone to open a box each time something is needed. Only after opening the box, too, can they see if the inventory is running low.

The "after" picture shows you the change. Notice that the top shelf is now off-limits. Meanwhile, supplies have been organized in see-through containers, each with a clear label showing what is packed therein. The bins are easily pulled to permit removal of the supplies. And, because the original delivery boxes have been emptied, inventories are clear on a continuous basis.

As we say in the hospital world, this is not brain surgery, but it does require a thoughtful view of the work situation. That view, by the way, is constructed by the people who work in this area, not by some high ranking administrator. They get guidance from our Lean project team in the basic principles, but they are the ones who own the solution.


Anonymous said...

Great example.

Alice Lee said...

As fetching, searching, bad ergonomics, etc. are such staff dissatisfiers (and also get in their way of doing the work for which they are actually paid to do - satisfying the needs of our customers) this seemingly simple work of organizing the workplace for flow is a huge crowd pleaser and flow enhancer. We are also redesigning the supply rooms in the inpatient units for flow to give our caregivers more time with the patients. In fact the kitchen storeroom team heard about the inpatient supply room work and asked if there was anything they could learn from that experience to makeover their storeroom. Different supplies, different needs, different teams, same 5S principles.

To spread this learning & flow further, each 5S trainee will be embarking on a 5S project in their own areas.

Best of all, the catering staff were amazed that all these people from other departments would take time to help them - that's the best feeling, building these linkages across the departments. It was inspirational to see with each passing minute the transformation of the way people think about work. I am so very happy to have been a part of this!

- Alice

Anonymous said...

A report today from a manager in the field:

You had to see what inventory/ordering took before -- "a crap shoot" is how it was described and running out of items was not uncommon. Thank you all so much for all the time and hard work. My team loves it!!

The space looks exactly like it did when we finished last Tuesday.... We are able to see what we need to purchase at a 5 second glance!!

EB said...

Even with the top shelf out of order, Joint Commission and Fire Safety Code requires 18" of space between ceiling tiles/sprinkler heads and equipment/storage. Glad to see the compliance with this standard, and am wondering if that steel scaffolding presents a compliance challenge for you, although I see some other boxes on the adjoining shelf.

e-Patient Dave said...

My kitchen needs LEAN.

TomC said...

Sorry, I just don't get it. Spend mega-bucks teaching and learning the latest "buzz" management techniques just to some up with this example? This is plain old common sense, observation and "management by walking around" at work here. We just have to get up, get involved and make things better.

Anonymous said...

A few points. First, we did not spend mega-bucks on this -- not even close. Second, it is more than management by walking around. Third, most places don't do it!

TomC said...

Thank you for the response Paul. Good to see the first point. Agree on the second point. Too bad about the third but I agree with that one as well.

TomC, www.chm.tc