The latest episode in the chronicle of the lean journey at Group Health Cooperative in Washington State is A Story from the Front By Dr. Wellesley Chapman. Dr. Wellesley writes about the experience of launching the lean transformation at the GHC clinic in Burien, Washington:
Because of Burien’s architecture, our teams work in isolation. Patients walk from team to team in the course of a visit, but our teams can’t see one another. Handoffs are invisible and lack standard communication. This is true for movement of flesh and blood patients and the data that precedes or trails them (electronic items and “old school” pieces of paper).
Waste rules the empty spaces between teams. It’s scary.
That last one is a powerful statement. It reminds me of the often used quote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” We can paraphrase to say, “All that is necessary for waste to fill our lives is for us to give it empty space.” Indeed there are many behaviors we allow which create empty space: the lack of clear and fair rules, lack of visible standards and limits, unclear responsibilities at boundaries and interfaces, loose connections and flows, vague purpose and priorities, weak discipline and and less-than-daily kaizen. These all give waste space in which to expand and rule.
Where in your organization are you allowing empty spaces to exist, giving opportunity for waste to creep in?