Using Lean Tools for Learning

Can I use your ADTP model along with an A3? – Joe

Todd Sperl:  Absolutely. We think it fits well with the A3, and that’s the way we designed and put it into the book. The way we’ve overlapped it, we think it blends nicely with that A3. Some may agree, and some may disagree. But the way we looked at it was, the Assess phase comprises of the problem statement and current state which are two typical components of the A3, and then the next components are improvement opportunity, and problem analysis are covered in the Diagnosis phase. Then our Treat phase includes future state implementation plan and verifying the results. The last part of the A3, the follow-up that falls into our Prevent phase. If you don’t follow up, you’re not preventing, or it slips it back to the way you used to work.

I think you’ve covered that really well in the book. I enjoyed that section of it and the way you chunked the different areas of the A3, I thought was very descriptive in the book. Your book is very practical and very tool-laden with lots of examples, download cheats that you offer. Can you kind of put a place in that tool perspective for me versus a culture perspective? I mean should we lead with tools? Is that a way that I should be learning Lean or how does all that work? -Joe

Todd Sperl:  Well, as we know, culture pretty much eats anything for lunch, dinner and breakfast and as well as a snack or two every now and then. The culture side that we run into this with from client after client after client and one of the things with that that we hear as we go into hospitals is, wow these guys; it’s another flavor of the month. They’re going to be gone shortly. What we like to do and I think the basics for Lean is that it’s very simple for frontline associates to do, not to understand, everybody gets it, but it’s the getting the accomplishments.

My best advice is to start small with teaching the frontline workers about waste, and they can identify that waste and start removing that. Some of the tools that you have that are part of Lean will help you eliminate the waste and then maintain the sustainability that you need, but in the same breath, you need also to start educating mid-level and senior level leaders on how to think and lead differently, how to ask questions and then how to monitor so that you maintain the results that you get.

The difficult thing is sustainability. I think that’s the one neat thing with Lean. When I consult with hospitals, I typically don’t go in with the answers. I know some unique situations where you can apply some new ideas for associates or on a project, but really, those ideas should come from the frontline because then, they own it. From that aspect of it, you really need to engage the frontline and have some quick wins, and then you start turning the culture that this is how we do things now. It’s not easy, and it’s not just one project and all of a sudden, you’re Lean.

About Todd Sperl: Todd Sperl brings a unique perspective to his work with healthcare organizations, as they navigate the challenges of today and prepare for the unknowns of tomorrow. He has introduced thousands of healthcare professionals across the country to the principals and philosophies of Change Management and Lean Six Sigma. His books are greatly influenced by his experiences and the stories shared with him by others along the way. The book we discussed in the podcast was Practical Lean Six Sigma for Healthcare – Using the A3 and Lean Thinking to Improve Operational Performance in Hospitals, Clinics, and Physician Group Practices. You can find Todd at Lean Fox Solutions..

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