Lean Healthcare

3rd Annual Management Blog Review 1 of 2: DailyKaizen

By Jon Miller Updated on May 24th, 2017

Every so often John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog organizes a handful of us to review the writing of other bloggers. The 3rd annual review involves 14 bloggers introducing the work of 50 others. My choice was to review the work of two Seattle-based blogs over the past year: DailyKaizen and The Lean Thinker. In the interest of full disclosure, I have done business with authors of both blogs or the organizations they work for and count these bloggers and lean practitioners among my good friends.

An post in January of 2010 began the year of blogging with some reflection:

I thought I would end by stating that a couple of years ago I would have been surprised by the progress we have made, but looking back today I am not surprised at all.

Another year on, we are not so much surprised as impressed. DailyKaizen is unique in that it is written not by one person but by a team of bloggers, all of whom work for at participate directly in the ongoing and historic lean enterprise transformation at Group Health Cooperative. The wide variety of voices, topics, experience and questions raised keeps DailyKaizen always fresh and relevant. On any given day a blog post may delve deeply into topics such as respect for people, daily huddles, purpose for a process or for the work we do, linkages between processes, nemawashi, how to make lean events successful, cause an effect, and motivation:

I have been thinking a lot lately about how as an organization we can do a more effective job at engaging people in their every day work. Over the last six months we have learned a lot through our Frontline Improvement (FLI) work, which I have written about extensively in past blog posting. While this work has been exciting and is showing results it also still relies on a lot of focus and project organization from management. It may be influencing the culture in the right direction, but it seems insufficient to meeting our aspirations. FLI is one important part of a much larger and lagging people management system.

The blog post continues to share some key insights into this topic based on research and reflection, and these gems are yours for the finding. This past year, perhaps more so than in the early days, DailyKaizen has been a blog about deep learning. There is a sense that the person who steps up to write an article was compelled to by an urgent need to share an insight born of practical experience and struggle.

The occasional stories from physicians who participate in lean events to redesign the healthcare delivery process are very encouraging, and revealing of the great opportunities that exist to improve quality of care and reduce cost. A typical story from the front by a doc from last year reads:

At the clinic level, with the help of Primary Care Leadership and lean consultants, we will begin this month the effort to improve across teams, each month pulling from several teams to learn how patients and their data move across our system and then to pull the waste out of those workflows.

We are focused on the patient (our customer) in this effort.
We are on the lookout for the Eight Wastes of Primary Care.
I get dizzy when I think how far we can go with this.

As broken as the entire healthcare delivery system in the United States can seem to us at times, it is filled with nothing but highly trained, highly intelligent, caring and dedicated people who want nothing more than to do their job well and help us get and stay well. Sick processes, systems and the incentives that drive them cause unfortunate behaviors and outcomes, in spite of all of the goodness. So whenever the process of interacting with hospitals, physicians and insurance companies threatens to drive me to distraction, a few articles from DailyKaizen give me hope that today there are such organizations growing people who do kaizen, one gemba at a time.

  1. Santosh

    March 15, 2012 - 4:22 pm

    My Week with Mr. Masaaki Imai by Ron Pereira The thing that I most taken aback by was how kind and humble Mr. Imai was (and is). Many of the so-called lean gurus of our time are not ayawls the most humble and kind… in fact, some of them are flat out arrogant and hard to listen to.

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