As it turns out, this particular hospital is attempting to use lean to improve their processes.
During our discussion I could tell something wasn’t quite right. You see, my relative obviously knows I run a company focused on teaching others about lean so I’m guessing she didn’t want to hurt my feelings… as such she didn’t initially mention any ill feelings towards lean.
However, after a few more minutes she finally opened up.
The “Lean Group”
In fact, she went on to explain how the “lean group” normally comes into an area and tells everyone how things are going to work.
She even explained how the “lean group” recently made some changes that actually created an unsafe working environment since access to a particular door was blocked.
While my relative definitely seemed interested in making lean work… she was most definitely less than thrilled with the way their “lean group” was going about things.
I don’t blame her.
R.I.G. Teams Working in Isolation Aren’t Lean
You see, while I’m a BIG fan of having at least a few associates focused on driving lean throughout an organization… I’m NOT a proponent of a “group” focused on making changes for the organization.
I’ve seen this in the form of a so called “R.I.G” team which stood for Rapid Improvement Group. This team of around 5 people traveled about and attacked areas like rabid animals. I mean they really tore into waste.
But the problem with this RIG team was they never included the folks who worked in the area!
As such, when they moved on to conquer waste in another area the applause they heard was not for a job well done… instead it was for thank goodness they’re leaving! The associates in the area actually resented this lean group since changes were made without their involvement.
The Lean Group is L.A.M.E
After hearing my relative’s description of how their “lean group” is going about things I politely explained that what they were doing is not lean.
In fact, I explained how what they were doing was in fact very L.A.M.E.
Kaizen is About People
The thing “lean groups” and RIG teams need to remember is that kaizen is as much about developing people as it is attacking waste.
In fact, without people development kaizen cannot and will not thrive long term.
So, again, while I’m definitely a big fan of having a group of people focused on driving lean… these people should be as focused on developing people by involving them and allowing the experts, or the people that do the work every day, come up with and implement the improvement ideas.
Do you agree?
That’s my two cents… what do you think? Do you agree that “lean groups” focused on nothing but waste reduction without people development is anti-lean? Or do you think it’s better than nothing?