Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Normal? Mindfulness without action is stasis.

My friend and colleague Norman Faull, the brains and spirit behind the Lean Institute Africa, asks whether we act (or should act) when we see something out of whack in our environment.

Of course, calling out problems is a key element of Lean process improvement. But whether or not you are a Lean adherent, it's good to consider your own behavior when you see something awry:

Why do we sometimes speak up ‘right now’ and other times not? 

After presenting some examples, Norman asks his readers:

What do you think? Should I have spoken up? How do you handle the everyday ‘abnormal’ that you come across? 

Think about your own examples. In the health care arena and elsewhere, this is all about mindfulness.  David Mayer set forth excellent examples in this story about Cliff Hughes, CEO of the New South Wales Clinical Excellence Commission:

Cliff, and his lovely wife Liz, were visiting from Australia this month, in part to attend our Telluride East Patient Safety Roundtable and Summer Camp in Washington, DC. As a result, my wife Cathy and I were able to spend some social time with Cliff and Liz, and with a consummate teacher like Cliff in the mix, the learning does not stop outside the four walls of a classroom or hospital. I share the following stories because they left such an impression on me, showing me that Cliff’s wisdom comes through living that which he teaches on a daily basis…

As we were walking through a local grocery store, we came across a small puddle of water on the floor in the produce section. I walked around the puddle, pointing out the potential safety hazard to Cliff following behind me. I continued walking, and it took about twenty more steps before I realized Cliff was no longer behind me. Instead of walking around the puddle like I had, Cliff had detoured to find the produce manager and show him the puddle so the safety hazard could be cleaned up. While I was mindful of Cliff’s safety in pointing out the puddle, Cliff was mindful of all others who would be following our same path and could suffer harm by slipping on the wet floor. Cliff acted on his mindfulness, and by reporting the event, helped prevent possible harm to others. I was mindful but didn’t act.

The very next day, Cliff and I were walking through a parking lot after a quick stop at a local Starbucks. I was in deep thought about our upcoming meeting. As we walked, we passed a parked car which I vaguely noticed had a back tire that was quite low…not completely flat, but would most likely soon be so with some extended driving. Momentarily noting the car, I kept walking, thinking about our upcoming meeting, Once again, Cliff disappeared and was no longer behind me. Instead, he was standing by the side of the car with the low tire, writing on a piece of paper. I walked back to where he was standing, and asked what he was doing. He said he was writing a note to the car’s owner, alerting the driver of the possible safety concern. Finishing the note, he placed it under the windshield wiper, clearly visible to the driver. Again, I noticed the potential safety hazard but was distracted by my own thoughts and priorities, and kept walking. I wasn’t fully “in the moment,” a prerequisite of mindfulness. Cliff, however, was fully in the moment. As such, he was able to not only notice potential safety risks, but also to report each incident and act to prevent possible harm to the driver and grocery shoppers. 

Mindfulness without action is stasis.

Healthcare needs more Cliff Hughes’…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of an old Director of Nurses I once had,
"When you walk by a standard, you set a new standard"
That comment has always stayed with me as I too mop up all the puddles