Improving Healthcare in the Lehigh Valley

I recently read this interesting white paper titled Using Lean Management to Improve Access to Both Psychiatric and Medical Care, authored by Dr. Michael W. Kaufmann, the chairperson of the department of psychiatry at the Lehigh Valley Health Network. He documents four quality improvement projects using Lean methodology. The four projects focused on: a collaboration plan for medical floor transfers, inpatient psychiatry units, an ancillary reduction project, and an emergency department LOS (length of stay) reduction project.

The most revealing section explains the two main reasons for the success of the projects: 1. A collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, which ultimately results in a “peaceful, silo-busting approach." 2. Buy-in from key stakeholders.

What are your reactions to the results and the lessons learned?


Lean Logistics Meets Zero Emissions

The future design of ocean cargo marine terminals, specifically, and the efficiency of global supply chains, in general, may defined by a concept unveiled by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics. According to this article, the "Castor Green Terminal" will be powered solely by the sun and the wind -- By using no fossil fuels, these groundbreaking terminals will release no harmful emissions into the atmosphere.

Although the wind turbines and solar photovoltaic roof panels will provide the main source of power, these terminals will also harness their own water supplies. Rain water will be collected from the roofs and then stored in underground tanks.

Complementing the intelligent design of these terminals will be the processes by which they will run -- Lean production techniques "focusing on the elimination of waste and adding value" will be applied during each stage of the cargo’s movement through the terminal. In addition, all waste from such facilities as workshops and paint shops will be considered "a resource to be recycled used for heating or properly transferred."

Can the future of global supply chains and logistics really be imagined without "Lean, green, and clean" sensibility?


The 2010 Lean Logistics Summit

From Tuesday, June 22 through Wednesday, June 23, the leading authorities -- authors, researchers, and company representatives -- on the subject of lean logistics will gather at the 2010 Lean Logistics Summit in Cincinnati to discuss experiences and share insights. This conference is the newest addition to the series of fine targeted summits, which include the Lean Accounting Summit, the TWI Summit, and the Lean and Green Summit. Like these other Summits, the Lean Logistics Summit will take a focused look at a specific aspect of the Lean enterprise. This year's agenda of speakers and presenters is quite impressive.

To read a very helpful
article on mapping a Lean supply chain authored by Robert Martichenko, one of the keynote speakers at this summit, click here.


Traditional Change Models and Lean and Six Sigma Implementation

I recently posed the question -- Do traditional change models help or hinder Lean and Six Sigma implementation? -- to Larry Solow and Brenda Fake (authors of What Works for GE May Not Work for You: Using Human Systems Dynamics to Build a Culture of Process Improvement) and I've decided to post their reply here:

"We believe the answer is 'yes!' While we are glad many Lean/Six Sigma leaders and project managers attempt to address organizational change at some level... it is not nearly enough. Change today can no longer depend on a linear six or seven step model that is easy to follow in 'the change plan' or project charter. Those models fail because linear plans fail to address the complexity of the problem itself and the larger systems in which they are embedded.

We as Lean and Six Sigma leaders owe it to ourselves, the projects, the employees, and the customers to look at business improvement change through the lens of complexity. This requires today’s successful Lean/Six Sigma professionals to understand the initial conditions for why a change is needed, and the many moving parts that are impacted by the improvement. It is not enough to analyze the problem in a vacuum. It is critical to be able to see and influence the patterns of the relationships to the business improvement, set the initial conditions, and implement improvements that can adapt to rapid and unpredictable changes in order to sustain themselves beyond the initial implementation."

Feel free to post your thoughts or comments.


William Balzer Makes the College Connection

William K. Balzer (author of Lean Higher Education: Increasing the Value and Performance of University Processes) will appear on the College Connection radio show discussing the implementation of Lean in a university administration environment.

College Connection is the public’s radio link to information about Oklahoma’s colleges and universities and the importance of college degrees for individuals and for the state. On the air since 2004, the state-wide, weekly program targets a general audience and features news on higher education issues and interviews with education experts and newsmakers from around the state and nation.

Here are the air times and radio stations:

Saturday 10:00 a.m. & Sunday 10:30 p.m.
KOKC- AM 1520 Oklahoma City

Sunday 6:00 a.m.
KOCU-FM 90.1 Altus
KLCU-FM 90.3 Ardmore
KYCU-FM 89.1 Clinton/Weatherford/Elk City
KCCU-FM 89.3&102.9 Lawton/Ft. Sill/Duncan
KMCU-FM 88.7 Wichita Falls, TX.

Sunday 6:30 p.m.
KOSU-FM 101.9 Okmulgee
KOSU-FM 107.5 Stillwater
KOSU-FM 91.7 Tulsa/Bartlesville

Monday & Wednesday 4 p.m.
KSSU-FM 91.9 Durant

The show will also be archived on the
College Connection web site.


Alaskan Lean

I had the pleasure of meeting Patrick Anderson -- the director of Chugachmiut (a Tribal consortium created to promote self-determination to the seven Native communities of the Chugach Region of Alaska) -- at the recent TWI Summit in Las Vegas. He told me about his organization and its Lean initiatives -- in fact, they are detailed right on the Chugachmiut site.

While perusing the site, I noticed a link to Patrick's engaging
blog and perused some of the entries including this recent post about a kaizen event in the human resources department. In addition, Patrick participated in a podcast on the Lean Blog site hosted by Mark Graban in which he discusses applying Lean principles to healthcare delivery in Alaska.


NYU Langone Medical Center Embraces Lean & Six Sigma

The NYU Langone Medical Center partnered with the Institute for Management and Executive Development (IMED) at the Rutgers University School of Business in Camden, New Jersey to become a "world-class" and "patient-centered" medical facility according to this article on the Rutgers University Continuing Studies site.

Martin Costa, the director of Organizational Development and Learning at NYU Langone Medical Center, is now the director of the new Lean Management Office as well. He states that, other than the benefits of waste-reducing pilot projects and increased operational efficiency, "we are creating a different atmosphere here in terms of how people identify, address, and collaborate on solutions." It appears this initiative is not focusing merely on cost-saving activities, but creating a cross-functional, team based culture.

In addition, it seems change is occurring from the top down -- Martin points out that “one of the most valuable gains is a deeper knowledge of how to be effective as a leader of change.”

Can any Lean initiatives sustain if the leadership of an organization does not embrace and direct the culture change?