Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Please be persistently dissatisfied

A tweet by @dripchamber caught my eye:

If I ever say, "Overall we're happy with the way the hospital is headed, infection-wise," please shoot me.

And the s/he links to this article in the Baltimore Brew.  An excerpt:

After one of the deadliest weekends in Baltimore in several years – 8 people dead, 20 shot in all during the period from Friday afternoon to Monday morning – comments by the city police spokesman are prompting blistering criticism in some quarters. 

“This is a little bit of a spike in terms of the weekend, but all in all, we’re pretty satisfied with the way the city is headed, violence-wise,” Guglielmi said, in Carrie Wells’ story in today’s Baltimore Sun. 

I loved@dripchamber's comment, not only for the clever directive that alludes to the violence covered in the article, but more importantly for what it stands for about quality improvement in hospitals.  Indeed, about quality improvement anywhere.

I have yet to meet any serious adherent to the concept of quality improvement who is ever satisfied with regard to progress made.  As my friend and colleague Roger Berkowitz, CEO of Legal Sea Foods, is wont to say about quality in his restaurants: "This is always a work in progress."  (Disclosure: I am on the LSF board.  Mainly because of Roger's commitment to quality.  But also because of the clam chowder!)

In the hospital world, whether people are engaged in Lean process improvement or another approach to the issue, the primary characteristic of those furthest along is modesty.  "We've learned a lot," they might say, "but mainly we've learned how far we have to go."

This implies a need for curiosity and experminentation and a leadership cadre that encourages blame-free learning at all levels in the organization.

As Virginia Mason's Sarah Patterson has said: "Just tell them to do it. Don't be afraid. It won't be perfect. Try it. Fail. Try it. Change. Keep going."

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